HARTFORD, CT — The state Board of Physicians last week recommended adding two debilitating conditions to Connecticut’s growing medical marijuana program, and also re-categorizing two others.
The board Friday unanimously voted to add “intractable headache syndromes” and “neuropathic facial pain” to the list of new conditions pending approval by the legislature. It removed migraine headaches and Trigeminal neuralgia, which had been approved in June because they both have symptoms that fall under the broader term of “intractable headache syndromes.”
Currently, the program provides medical marijuana for adult patients with 22 debilitating conditions and for six different conditions for those 18 and younger.
There are now more than 19,000 medical marijuana patients in the state and over 700 participating physicians.
Individual medical marijuana dispensaries are located in Hartford, Branford, Waterbury, Bethel, South Windsor, Uncasville, Bristol, and there are two in Milford.
The two new conditions added are only for those who are 18 years of age or older.
The board voted after hearing compelling testimony from 19-year-old Taylor Dudek, of Lisbon, who has hydrocephalus.
Hydrocephalus is the buildup of too much cerebrospinal fluid in the brain. Symptoms are headaches, vomiting and nausea, blurry vision, loss of balance, bladder control, and problems thinking with memory. It would fall under the category of intractable headache syndromes.
“I don’t remember a day without pain,” Dukek told the doctors on the medical marijuana board. She said she has had “hundreds of doctor appointments and used countless medications, yoga, and massage” among other treatments to try to find relief.
None have worked, she said.
She asked the doctors to approve the condition, believing it may help her manage her “chronic, uncontrollable pain.”
Panel member Dr. Mitchell Prywes, medical director for pain rehabilitation at Danbury Hospital, said the conditions being added were important steps for the growing medical marijuana program.
“We are not talking about run of the mill headaches,” Prywes said, stating that those who would be getting medical marijuana “have not been responsive to traditional types of treatment.”
“These are patients that are truly suffering,” Prywes said.
The conditions will still need to be approved by the Attorney General and the legislature’s Regulations Review Committee.
While the medical cannabis program is alive and well in Connecticut, efforts to legalize recreational use have so far fizzled in the General Assembly.
Several bills proposed to legalize recreational marijuana never made it out of committee, though proponents still hold out hope that its revenue raising potential may make it into whatever final budget bill eventually makes its way to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s desk.