Cannabis — in pill, liquid and vapor form — became available July 1, 2015, to treat such conditions as cancer-related nausea, seizures, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. By the end of that first week, the Minnesota Department of Health had approved eight patients to begin using medical cannabis.
A year later, at least 1,588 patients, including over 100 children, have been placed on the state eligibility registry.
They include Pete LePage, 43, of Woodbury who buys his medicine from a LeafLine Labs dispensary in Eagan. It’s one of eight cannabis patient centers in the state.
“It’s been life-changing,” said LePage, who was paralyzed after an ATV accident in 1994. He wants people to know that “medical cannabis is helpful. It’s not a dirty, ugly thing. It’s not a hippie thing.”
The crash, in which he dropped into a steep ditch and fell some 20 feet, left him wracked with chronic spasms in his legs, abs, back and bladder. At one point, he was taking five prescription drugs, whose side effects led him to take muscle relaxants, antacids and fiber pills.
“Now, I take none,” he said.
Once a day, he uses a syringe to put some drops of cannabis extract in his mouth. The product, marketed by Leafline as Heather, is a liquid and granular “suspension” mixture.
“There is no recreational value to this medicine,” he said. But it also doesn’t dull his senses or put him to sleep.
Translation: Heather will not get you high. And while it doesn’t completely vanquish the pain, it allows more freedom of movement.
“It’s not adding functions or things to do, it makes everything I want to do easier,” he said. “The spasticity and tone makes me feel stiff and heavy and like I am frozen in concrete. With