The following is the text of a July 19, 2012, blog post by Will  Humble, the Director of the Arizona Department of Health Services:

“The voter approved list of conditions that already qualify patients for an AZ Medical Marijuana Registration Card (with a doctor’s certification) includes any of the following: any chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition (or its treatment) that causes severe and chronic pain, severe nausea, severe and persistent muscle spasms, wasting, or seizures, cancer, glaucoma, HIV, Hepatitis C, ALS, Crohn’s disease, agitation of Alzheimer’s disease.  The AZ Medical Marijuana Act also requires us to periodically accept petitions to permanently add new medical conditions to the list of conditions that qualify folks for a card.

We accepted petitions from the public to add new medical conditions back in January.  Folks submitted numerous articles as a part their petitions for PTSD 1PTSD 2; Depression; Migraines; and Generalized Anxiety Disorder.  We also received lots of informal comments regarding adding PTSD; Depression; Migraines; Generalized Anxiety Disorder and General comments.  We also heard in person testimony from dozens of folks at our public hearing in May.

Because my guiding principle for making the decision was to use science and research, we contracted with the U of A College of Public Health to do an evidence review of published scientific studies to help us to make a more informed decision.  You can see the UA’s analyses for Depression; Generalized Anxiety Disorder; Migraine Headaches; and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) on our petition website.   The UA used the GRADE methodology to evaluate the quality of the studies looking at the benefits and harms of using Cannabis to treat or provide relief for the conditions that were petitioned to add to the list of qualifying conditions for a Medical Marijuana Registration card.  Also, our ADHS Medical Advisory Committee reviewed and analyzed the data and provided me with recommendations earlier this week.

We heard and received a host of moving stories from the public both on-line and during our a public hearing in May.  Many of the commenters and folks that testified self-reported that they believe Cannabis provided relief for the petitioned conditions.  However, our literature review found limited scientific evidence to document whether Cannabis is helpful or not for the petitioned conditions or that support permanently adding the petitioned conditions to the statutory list of qualifying debilitating conditions identified in the Act.  In short- I didn’t approve the petitions because of the lack of published data regarding the risks and benefits of using Cannabis to treat or provide relief for the petitioned conditions.

However, some of the petitioned conditions (such as migraine headaches) already qualify patients for a medical marijuana registration card if they cause severe and chronic pain, severe nausea, severe and persistent muscle spasms, wasting, or seizures.

Whatever you think of the decision, just know that our team and I really took an objective and close look at the scientific evidence before making this decision.  And remember, the Act provides for a judicial review of this decision and a continuing petition process.  In fact, we’ll be accepting petitions again next week.”