Friday, July 12, 2019

PA Health Secretary Adds Anxiety Disorders and Tourette Syndrome to Medical Marijuana Program Serious Medical Conditions

On Thursday, Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine announced that effective July 20, anxiety disorders and Tourette syndrome will be approved serious medical conditions in the medical marijuana program based on the recommendation of the Medical Marijuana Advisory Board and a review of medical research on the use of marijuana to treat these conditions.
“After a careful review of the medical literature available about these conditions, I have decided to approve this recommendation,” Dr. Levine said. “Patients should consult with their health care provider to see if medical marijuana will be beneficial for them. I do not take this decision lightly, and do have recommendations for physicians, dispensary pharmacists and patients in terms of the use of medical marijuana to treat these conditions. For both conditions, medical marijuana is not first line treatment and should not replace traditional therapies but should be used in conjunction with them, when recommended by a physician.”

Dr. Levine advised that patients with anxiety disorders should continue to pursue counseling and therapy to manage their illness. She said that research indicates medical marijuana with low THC and high CBD content are more effective for treatment of anxiety disorders and is recommended for short-term use.

“In addition, medical marijuana is not recommended to treat children and adolescents with anxiety disorders, as their brains are still developing,” Dr. Levine said.

Dr. Levine also warned that pregnant women with any of the approved serious medical conditions should not use medical marijuana as the impacts on the fetus are unknown.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health today also held a research summit for medical marijuana, bringing together the eight universities and three approved clinical registrants to discuss what medical marijuana research will look like in Pennsylvania.

The research program, guided by Act 43 of 2018, allows for eight clinical registrants who each must hold both a grower/processor and a dispensary permit. Clinical registrants must also have a research contract with one of eight approved academic clinical research centers.

There are close to 111,000 active patient certifications as part of the medical marijuana program. More than 1,600 physicians have registered for the program, more than 1,160 of whom have been approved as practitioners.

The medical marijuana program was signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf on April 17, 2016. Since that time, the department has:
  • Completed temporary regulations to enact the program;
  • Convened the Medical Marijuana Advisory Board;
  • Approved six training providers for physician continuing education;
  • Approved four laboratories to test medication before it is delivered to patients;
  • Registered nearly 165,000 total patients and issued more than 137,000 identification cards;
  • Validated more than 1.3 million dispensing events with more than 3.7 million products sold;
  • Issued 25 grower/processors permits, 18 of which are operational;
  • Issued 50 dispensary permits and approved 54 locations to begin operations;
  • Certified eight medical schools as Academic Clinical Research Centers; and
  • Approved three clinical registrants.
The medical marijuana program offers medical marijuana to patients who are residents of Pennsylvania and under a practitioner’s care for the treatment of a serious medical condition as defined by the Medical Marijuana Law.

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