Questions Remain about Whether Medical Marijuana can Treat Macular Degeneration
The Minnesota Department of Health announced that chronic pain and age-related macular degeneration are the two new conditions that qualify for Minnesota’s medical cannabis program. However, optometrists say they don’t want people to get their hopes up too high.
“Just because something is legal doesn’t mean that it’s effective,” said Dr. Jordan Keith, an optometrist from the Eye Care Center in Maple Grove. “Both the optometry and ophthalmology community have not endorsed this, and there is no evidence that either organization quotes, that any cannabis is useful for eye diseases or to prevent eye diseases.”
Dr. Keith says that patients come in every day to ask whether they can use marijuana to treat macular degeneration. The disease is the most common cause of vision loss in people over the age of 60. Macular degeneration doesn’t have a cure or an effective treatment.
Dr. Keith says doctors will still have a lot of unanswered questions about medical marijuana until researchers are able to conduct large clinical trials on people.
“We don’t know if it’s helpful, and worse, we don’t know if it’s harmful,” Dr. Keith said. “And so, news like this should be approached with caution. And we’d all love it, something to work better than our current treatments. But I think the conversations with patients will certainly be very cautious.”
People wanting to treat macular degeneration or chronic pain with medical marijuana will be able to do so in August 2020.
Meanwhile, the Maple Grove Government Center will host a cannabis listening session led by state House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley) and State Representative Kristin Bahner, (DFL-Maple Grove) on Thursday, Dec. 5 at 6 p.m.