Medical Cannabis Program

Medical Cannabis, IBS & Intractable Pain: Vicki's Story

20181203_141827.jpg

LeafLine Labs patient, Vicki, was born and raised in Hibbing, Minnesota where she currently lives. She is a mother, a grandmother to four grandchildren, and has been with her significant other for over 14 years.

Vicki is a caregiver for her mother, who lives down the street, and she is passionate about helping people; she gets joy from inspiring smiles and laughter in others. She considers herself spiritual and meditates regularly. When she can, she incorporates yoga or pilates into her daily routine.

For the majority of her life, Vicki has lived with the pain, anxiety, and other symptoms that come with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, GERD, Celiac disease, and numerous other food allergies.

To treat her various conditions, she has tried a seemingly countless list of medications and physical therapy, but the relief was always minimal and the side effects many.

Vicki describes herself as a happy, outgoing person but for the past few years she did not quite feel like herself. Her health, both emotionally and physically, went into decline. She experienced more pain and anxiety and began to eat and sleep less. She remembers days where she would force herself to get up and out of her pajamas just of so that her significant other, Kevin, wouldn’t know she hadn’t gotten out of bed all day.

When Vicki first learned about the medical cannabis program in Minnesota, she assumed that the requirements to become a patient were more restrictive than they actually were; she thought that one had to have been diagnosed with cancer or another terminal illness.

When a friend recommended she get certified and she realized she could qualify with her conditions, Vicki decided she needed to make a drastic change and would do anything to get there.

Vicki had experimented with cannabis in the past as a way to self-medicate but didn’t quite feel as though she was getting the relief she had heard so much about; she was eager to see what differences she would experience after enrolling in the state’s program.

In October 2018, she had her conditions certified, enrolled in the program and scheduled an initial consultation at the LeafLine Labs patient care center in Hibbing.

Since her first appointment, Vicki’s life has taken a drastic turn for the best. “The medical cannabis has taken the inflammation out of my body; it has taken the pain away,” she shares.

Now, she is doing things once again that she hadn’t in over two years. She feels an undeniable difference and everyone around her has noticed the improvement in her mood and the way she moves about her life.

Amazingly, Vicki has not had to take a single prescription or over-the-counter painkiller since she began using medical cannabis. She still takes medication to help her sleep at night, but has been able to cut her dosing in half.

Since she was young, Vicki has lived with thyroid problems. Just the other day, her test results came back and she was told she needs to decrease her dosing of Synthroid, a drug that replaces or provides more thyroid hormones. Since 1994, Vicki has never tapered her use of thyroid medication, only increased; Vicki is ecstatic about this change and believes wholeheartedly that cannabis has helped her get to this milestone.

Feeling better and more optimistic than she has in quite some time, Vicki is eager to see what other firsts and progress come as she continues to use medical cannabis. “It has given me my life back,” she shares.

She is grateful to have the energy and desire once again to spend time with her loved ones, pursue her passions and to move about her day with newfound effort and ease.

Vicki with her son and daughter.

Vicki with her son and daughter.

Medical Cannabis Delivery Methods: Vaporization

Vape Cartridge.png

At LeafLine Labs we offer medical cannabis in a variety of forms, intended to help patients obtain the relief they seek in the most efficient way possible. Our 100% pure cannabis oils are free of potentially harmful diluting agents or solutions such as polyethylene glycol (PEG) or glycerine so you don’t have to worry about what is in your medicine.

Vaporizers can come with prepackaged oil cartridges or oils that patients load into a personal vaporizer themselves.

With vaporization, medication in pure extract oil form is gently warmed to the point that the medicine evaporates into a mist-like vapor and can be inhaled. This is not smoke and produces no products of combustion as smoking would.

Dosing is controlled by duration of the inhalation, similar to that of a metered-dose inhaler. Inhaled medication absorption is rapid and the therapeutic effects can be seen more quickly than with other forms, within a few minutes, although effects have the shortest duration.

Delivery Methods: Heather Topical Gel Cream

Heather Topical Gel Cream V2 Insta.png

Created to provide relief for localized pain, LeafLine Labs’ Heather Topical Gel Cream is the most cannabinoid-concentrated topical available to patients in Minnesota.

Heather is our 1:1 formulation; combining THC and CBD in roughly equal amounts has shown to work well together for pain-related conditions.

This product provides anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects while eliminating the psychoactive component often experienced when taking oral, inhaled, or centrally absorbed medical cannabis formats.

Topical formulations act on cannabinoid receptors without breaching the bloodstream, which allows for efficient pain relief while minimizing side effects.

This medication is dispensed in an easy-to-use bottle which includes a built-in applicator that provides a pre-measured dose with each pump. This product may be used independently or in combination with other LeafLine Labs products.

Our pharmacy team often recommends this type of medication for painful muscle spasm disorders, neuropathic pain, and select cancer-related pain.

How May Cannabis Help Patients With PTSD?

_E4I1049.jpg

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) became a qualifying condition for the medical cannabis program in Minnesota on August 1, 2017.

PTSD is a mental health disorder that manifests after a traumatic event. Symptoms of PTSD are varied but often include: disturbed sleep, anxiety (specifically when in a situation similar or reminiscent of the traumatic event(s), flashbacks, and more.

In severe cases of PTSD, these symptoms can greatly impact daily life. There is no cure for PTSD, but its symptoms can be managed with medication and therapy.

Medical cannabis can help patients with PTSD by decreasing anxiety, improving sleep, decreasing nightmares, and helping to reduce avoidant behaviors.

LeafLine Labs pharmacists are experienced in treating patients with PTSD, and many of our patients who are currently being treated for the disorder have achieved great symptom relief. Our goal with medical cannabis therapy is to help manage the symptoms of PTSD and help improve patients’ quality of life as much as possible.

How May Medical Cannabis Help Patients With Arthritis?

LLL Product (48 of 72).jpg

Arthritis itself is not a qualifying condition for the medical cannabis program in Minnesota, however, LeafLine Labs treats many patients with arthritis who have qualified for the medical cannabis program under Intractable Pain.

Medical cannabis’ ability to reduce pain and inflammation is well established, and many patients currently being treated for arthritis symptoms at our care centers have reported greatly improved symptoms.

Every arthritis patient has unique needs, and a consultation with a LeafLine Labs pharmacist is the best way to determine what medications are most likely to work for their symptom profiles.

For example, one patient may be seeking greater pain relief and help sleeping through the night, and another patient may be trying to be more active with less pain during the day. These two patients would likely have different treatment plans. We can create virtually any custom ratio of CBD to THC and use what the patient feels works best for them.

Our goal with medical cannabis therapy is to help manage the symptoms of arthritis, such as reducing pain and inflammation, and to help improve patient’s quality of life as much as possible.

How May Medical Cannabis Help Cancer Patients?

LLL Product (70 of 72).jpg

Tangerine, our high-THC and low-CBD formulation, is our most commonly used medication for cancer patients.

THC often gets a bad rap, but provides a lengthy list of therapeutic benefits such as: decreasing pain, improving appetite, increasing weight gain, and improving sleep. THC is also known for its anti-nausea, anti-emetic (vomiting) and anti-anxiety properties.

The small amount of CBD that is in this product has anti-inflammatory properties. CBD helps to improve the anti-nausea, anti-emetic and anti-anxiety properties of THC, which are helpful in progressive diseases as well as during and after chemotherapy.

THC and CBD have also shown to have anti-cancer properties, similar to chemotherapy but without the systemic damage. This has not been clinically proven, as it is all based on patient reports, but is promising nonetheless.

At LeafLine Labs, we see a variety of patients with cancer, ranging from pediatric to elderly, with a wide variety of diagnoses. We have seen many cancer patients who have experienced decreased nausea, healthy weight gain, pain management, improved sleep, decreased anxiety levels and who have been able to decrease their use of narcotics, sleep aids, or anti-nausea medications.

Read how medical cannabis from LeafLine Labs has helped Char after her stage 4 metastatic breast cancer diagnosis on the blog.

Intractable Pain, Obstructive Sleep Apnea & Medical Cannabis: Tony's Story

Meet Tony, a LeafLine Labs patient who lives in Apple Valley, Minnesota. He is your not-so-typical ‘retired’ (as he likes to call it) 25 year old. He graduated from Augsburg College with a degree in Management Information Systems. He’s sharp, smart, and has a great sense of humor. A self-proclaimed music critic, he runs his own blog where he shares his thoughts on the best and worst of the industry. He enjoys going to movies, playing video games, and spending time outside as much as he can.

Tony grew up walking, running, and participating in all the activities of a typical childhood. When he was 4 ½ years old, he started showing signs of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), a disorder of progressive muscular weakness most commonly found in boys. To help manage symptoms of DMD, Tony began taking steroid injections.

Although the steroids helped to slow the progression of DMD, they did not come without side effects. Most notably, he stopped growing around age 12. He also experienced cataracs, high blood pressure and often crippling anxiety. His appetite was small, at best, most of the time. He was later diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

Tony’s calf muscles were the first part of his body weakened by DMD, which caused him to walk on his tiptoes. In middle school his overall mobility was quite affected. By high school Tony was using a wheelchair.

The combination of side effects from steroid injections, the chronic pain from sitting in a wheelchair all day, and the stress and physical toll a lack of sleep takes on the body led him to to enroll in the medical cannabis program here in Minnesota in November 2016.

Prior to enrolling, Tony and his family--mom, dad, and brother--took part in petitioning the addition of Intractable Pain to the medical cannabis program in Minnesota. They’ve attended rallies at the capitol and consider themselves advocates for cannabis as medicine.

Tony and his parents struggled to find a physician who would certify his condition. Eventually, they were referred to a physician who was willing to help and was actively certifying patients for the medical cannabis program. “It was challenging. Worth it, but I wish it was easier,” his mother, Carol said.

Since beginning cannabinoid therapy with medicine from LeafLine Labs, Tony’s life has been changed for the better. His quality of life, as well as his family’s, has increased significantly. His appetite is back, he has real, lasting pain relief, and his anxiety is manageable. He can sleep through the night. He can spend longer periods of times doing the things he loves, and he can also spend more time in his wheelchair without his back hurting. He is completely off steroids. “It makes everything better,” Tony said.

As parents and caregivers, Carol and Steve, have found an incredible amount of relief in seeing the changes in their son’s mobility, mood, and overall quality of life. His diagnoses have helped them, as well as his brother, appreciate their own health and not take anything for granted.

Tony and his family work every day to embrace and embody the adage “Live life to your fullest," and medical cannabis has been a key component in allowing all of them to do just that. One of the perks of his situation? “Handicap parking,” Tony joked. Remember that great sense of humor?

Tony’s piece of advice for anyone considering enrolling in the medical cannabis program here in Minnesota: “Don’t pass it by without giving it a chance…”

 

Medical Cannabis in Minnesota Proves Successful in Fight Against Opioid Epidemic

As a physician with a clinical career spanning 14 years, I’ve been both trained and compelled to learn more and strive to care better. As such, upon recognizing the practitioner’s role in a multifactorial, pervasive, complex, systemic, escalating healthcare problem that has become formally acknowledged as America’s devastating prescription opioid epidemic, and federally acknowledged as a “Public Health Emergency,” I was inspired to pursue education and innovation over inertia and inaction.

For the last two years, the CDC has published data suggesting decreasing life expectancy despite increasing healthcare expenditure in the U.S. Opioids are now responsible for over 42,000 U.S. deaths annually and prescription drugs have become our nation’s leading cause of preventable death. More of us are dying from opioid overdoses than from either car accidents or gun violence.

Emboldened with the knowledge that our existing pharmacopeia was offering too little for some, while concurrently too much for many, I stepped away from traditional clinical practice to found LeafLine Labs, one of only two registered manufacturers and providers of medical cannabis and associated care in Minnesota.

Medical Cannabis has a documented history of medicinal use and success in the management of pain and other symptoms and conditions for the past 5,000 years, without a single case of death ever documented or attributed to acute toxicity or overdose.

Since the launch of the state’s program three years ago, over 5,000 LeafLine Labs patients have received our life-changing medicine, with ZERO serious adverse health events or hospitalizations attributed to our care, and countless stories of success. Our medicine has proven safe, consistent and effective, with patients experiencing fewer seizures, fewer symptoms, fewer side effects, and more sleep, more quality of life and more hope. And while we are pioneering prospective studies that will show the undeniable impact of medical cannabis, the compelling data we have observed to date is tangible evidence that this medicine is already impacting and saving lives.

The research team at LeafLine Labs has taken the first step to quantitatively confirm what we have anecdotally seen as professional caregivers over and over—medical cannabis is an appropriate medicinal treatment option for both pain control and for tapering patients off of opiates. A retrospective chart review of 100 LeafLine Labs patients (50 males, 50 females, age range 23-91, randomly selected) who qualified for Minnesota’s program due to intractable pain and were on opiate medications upon their initial consult has recently been completed, with more to follow.

The results are more than impactful. They are monumental as evidential support to confirm that medical cannabis is a safe, effective way to manage and alleviate pain. We found that 90 percent of patients had a decrease in their self-reported chronic pain level after 30 days of treatment (a result that was successfully maintained through 90 days) and 35 percent of patients had a self-reported decrease in their opiate use and/or had discontinued opiate use entirely after 30 days of treatment (a result that was similarly maintained through 90 days). The most common additional benefits cannabis provided, in addition to pain reduction, were sleep improvement (49 percent) and anxiety relief (26 percent). These results are nothing short of a miracle for patients who have been dealing with pain, dependence, addiction and debilitating side effects from opioids for years.

In an enlightening and now replicated 2014 study published in JAMA, the mere existence of a responsibly regulated medical cannabis program within a state allowing chronic or intractable pain as a certifying patient diagnosis correlated with a 25-33 percent reduction in prescription opioid overdose deaths. With responsible medical advancement, thousands of lives have already been saved, and more progress will follow.

As a profession that places patient well-being as our highest priority, we must accept responsibility to re-examine prescribing practices. That means embracing cannabis for the medicinal option it has always been and responsibly replacing its perceived stigma with medical relevance, scientific legitimacy, and most importantly, effective and compassionate care.

The worst public health crisis of our time may tragically have been brought about by modernized Healthcare and the practice of medicine therein, but it may similarly be responsibly addressed and eradicated with bold actions by the same.

By Dr. Andrew Bachman, LeafLine Labs Founder, CEO and Chief Medical Officer

Minnesota Medical Cannabis Program Annual Recertification and Enrollment

As a participant of the Minnesota Medical Cannabis Program, each year you must have your qualifying condition recertified by a Minnesota licensed physician, physician assistant (PA), or an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) and pay the enrollment fee if you wish to continue to participate in the program.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • As a patient or caregiver, you must resubmit a copy of the certification from your health care practitioner on a yearly basis. Your recertification must be dated within 90 days of submission.
  • Recertification requires an in-person office visit with a health care practitioner who is registered in the Minnesota Medical Cannabis Program. You may recertify your condition up to 90 calendar days prior to your enrollment expiration date.
  • Your enrollment expiration date is based on a rolling year calendar that starts on the day you receive your acceptance e-mail into the program.    
  • You will receive a recertification reminder email at both 60 and 30 days prior to your enrollment expiration date.
  • If you complete the condition recertification and enrollment process prior to your annual enrollment expiration date, you will be automatically reenrolled on your yearly enrollment anniversary date. You will receive an approval e-mail confirmation once your reenrollment application has been reviewed by the Minnesota Department of Health.
  • If you are an approved caregiver in the Minnesota Medical Cannabis Registry, you do not need to complete any type of recertification or reenrollment. Your caregiver’s status is active, as long as the patient in your care is classified in the APPROVED status in the Registry.
  • If you do not complete the recertification process along with your payment before your annual expiration date, you will not be able to visit a Patient Care Center (PCC) or purchase medical cannabis. If you are listed as expired, you must complete the recertification and enrollment process and receive an approval e-mail from the Minnesota Department of Health before you can visit a PCC or purchase medical cannabis.

Questions about the annual recertification and enrollment process? Please comment below, call one of our patient care centers, or send an email to info@leaflinelabs.com.