New Study About Medical Marijuana for Headaches

HARTFORD — As the announced total of patients in Connecticut’s medical marijuana program broke 19,000, the board of doctors who supervise the inclusion of new ailments on Friday, for the first time, decided to broaden the scope of categories for future eligibility.

They voted to remove migraine headaches and Trigeminal neuralgia - both approved in June - from the list, and substitute it with an umbrella term: intractable headache syndromes, which would give doctors more latitude for certifying new patients to use medical cannabis.
The Board of Physicians also approved neuropathic face pain for inclusion in the five-year-old program, which now has 19,117 certified patients, up from 18,298 in June. There are 724 medical professionals registered.
Michelle Seagull, commissioner of the state Department of Consumer Protection, which administers the medical-cannabis program, approved the two afflictions later in the day Friday.
“A lot of these conditions have the same sorts of effects on people, even though it may be another condition that leads to that,” Seagull said, summarizing the opinions of board members during the 50-minute morning meeting. “It may make sense rather than doing it disease state by disease state, and to look at it more, kind of, holistically. The theory was that maybe we should look at conditions more broadly.”
“Certainly patients with severe migraines may benefit from medical cannabis,” said Dr. Andrew L. Salner, a board member. “I think the sense was, there are innumerable headache syndromes with intractable pain and rather discussing and ultimately qualifying every one, which could potentially be 20, the question was whether we could come up with a term that would be more inclusive for patients who suffer from these severe syndromes, so we could provide access to the program.”

“People who are labeled with migraines at times may not indeed have migraines,” said Dr. Jonathan A. Kost, citing a recent study that shows a reduction in the severity and length of headaches among patients using cannabis. “I think we’re going to see that continue, especially with neurological types of pain conditions.”
During a public hearing portion of the meeting, 19-year-old Taylor Dudek of Lisbon, in New London County, described her debilitating, daily agony. “For the last 11 years of my life I have been in chronic, uncontrollable pain,” she said. “Despite multiple surgical interventions, hundreds of doctor’s appointments and traditional medications, my pain continues to persist. I can’t recall a day where I open my eyes and the first thought in my mind wasn’t the constant throbbing in my head.”
“It’s this balance between being too broad and too narrow,” said Dr. Godfrey D. Pearlson, another board member.
The cause of neuropathic facial pain is often hard to diagnose, although it is often caused by nerve damage. “You can have a lot of causes of neurological facial pain,” said Dr. Vincent Carlesi, a pain management specialist with offices in Stamford and Wilton, who is also on the board.
The two new ailments, limited to those over 18, will join others approved in January and June, to be reviewed by Consumer Protection officials and the including the attorney general’s office.

Final approval would come before the legislative Regulation Review Committee sometime in 2018 and new patients would immediately be allowed to join the program. Currently, there are 22 conditions for patients to meet, including cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson's disease, Multiple Sclerosis and epilepsy.

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