Help patients 'rebound' by giving blood in March

In March, while basketball teams are fighting for the chance to be crowned champions, patients battling cancer and other illnesses are fighting for their lives. The American Red Cross asks blood donors to help patients rebound by making a lifesaving donation this spring.

Donors of all blood types are needed to help ensure that the Red Cross can collect more than 13,000 blood and platelet donations needed every day. To make an appointment to donate blood, download the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit or call 800-RED CROSS.

Upcoming blood donation opportunities:

• YMCA in Hudson - 12:30 to 6:30 p.m., March 9

• American Legion Post 121, River Falls - 8:30 to 2:30 p.m. March 16

• Citizens State Bank, Hudson - 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., March 16

• Mayo Clinic Health System in Red Wing - 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., March 21

Medical cannabis study shows significant number of patients saw pain reduction of 30% or more

Forty-two percent of Minnesota's patients taking medical cannabis for intractable pain reported a pain reduction of thirty percent or more, according to a new study conducted by the Minnesota Department of Health.

"This study helps improve our understanding of the potential of medical cannabis for treating pain," Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said. "We need additional and more rigorous study, but these results are clinically significant and promising for both pain treatment and reducing opioid dependence."

The first-of-its-kind research study is based on the experiences of the initial 2,245 people enrolled for intractable pain in Minnesota's medical cannabis program from Aug. 1, 2016 to Dec. 31, 2016. Of this initial group, 2,174 patients purchased medical cannabis within the study's observation period and completed a required self-evaluation before each purchase.

Health care practitioners caring for program-enrolled patients suffering from intractable pain reported similar reductions in pain scores, saying 41 percent of patients achieved at least a reduction of 30 percent or more. The study also found that of the 353 patients who self-reported taking opioid medications when they started using medical cannabis, 63 percent or 221 reduced or eliminated opioid use after six months.

New traffic card allows communication between people who are deaf, law enforcement

The Minnesota Department of Human Services released March 2 a new tool to help improve communications between people who are deaf and law enforcement. The new two-way communication card provides guidance to officers and can help facilitate the interaction. "Minnesotans who are deaf and hard of hearing suggested this card, which we are confident can help to reduce significant communications barriers and also increase overall safety for both people with hearing loss and law enforcement,"Human Services Assistant Commissioner Claire Wilson said. The laminated document, which can be kept in the vehicle, identifies the person as being deaf or hard of hearing and offers a few key communication tips. It has graphics the officer can point to indicating what information they need, what violation occurred and what will happen as a next step, such as a warning, ticket or possible arrest.

"This is a valuable tool for both the deaf and hard of hearing community as well as law enforcement," Col. Matt Langer, chief of the Minnesota State Patrol, said. "Any tool that helps with safety and communications is valuable." People who want the traffic card can send an email to dhhs.metro//