Thursday, July 11, 2019 – The Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine today announced that effective July 20, anxiety disorders and Tourette syndrome will be added to the list of approved qualifying medical conditions in the medical marijuana program.
Dr. Levine said her decision was based on the endorsement 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.”
She recommends patients with anxiety disorders continue to seek 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 the treatment of anxiety disorders and is recommended for short-term use.
“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,” she said. “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 cautioned pregnant women about the use of medical marijuana as the impacts on the fetus are unknown, and also spoke about the dangers of treating children with medical marijuana.
“Medical marijuana is not recommended to treat children and adolescents with anxiety disorders, as their brains are still developing,” Dr. Levine said.
Also today, the department, along with all eight academic research centers and the three clinical registrants, met to discuss exactly what research will be conducted and their hopes for how the outcomes will assist doctors and their patients.
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 Pennsylvania medical marijuana program. More than 1,600 physicians have registered for the program, and more than 1,160 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.
For more information about the medical marijuana program, visit www.medicalmarijuana.pa.gov.