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Anxiety Disorders and Tourette's Syndrome Added to PA's QC's

The medical marijuana program in Pennsylvania continues to evolve, as today it underwent another metamorphosis. This morning in Harrisburg, PA Department of Health Secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, made the announcement that Tourette Syndrome, and anxiety disorders, would be added to the current list of 21 qualifying conditions, expanding it to 23. These two ailments will become valid QC’s in the eyes of the state starting on the 20th of July. Dr. Levine made the decision to add these conditions after carefully considering two things- first, their recommendation by the Medical Marijuana Advisory Board, and second, existing medical research on the efficacy of marijuana in treating the conditions.

Dr. Levine revealed that, only after reviewing existing medical literature carefully, she accepted the board’s recommendation. While she has faith in this alternative treatment, she does not see it as a panacea. Speaking about the matter, she 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.”

For some people, marijuana with heightened levels of THC (the psychoactive component of the plant) may cause a certain level of anxiety-related discomfort. To avoid these unwanted potential side-effects, Dr. Levine advises patients treating anxiety disorders to pursue strains that are high in CBD, with lower levels of THC. Dr. Levine also indicated that children and adolescents with anxiety disorders should abstain from using medical marijuana, because of their still-developing brains. Pregnant women should also avoid using medical marijuana, as the effects it could have on the fetus are unknown.

Also occurring earlier today, the PA Department of Health held a research summit. At this summit the 8 universities, and the 3 clinical registrants partnered with them, gathered to discuss the future of medical marijuana research in Pennsylvania. A clinical registrant, or CR, in Pennsylvania must have a grower/processor permit, as well as a dispensary permit. In addition to these permits, CRs must also have a formal research contract with one of the eight academic clinical research centers.

With about 165,000 patients registered, and more than 111,000 patients active, PA continues to grow its program. Over 1,160 approved practitioners have helped issue over 137,000 identification cards. With the addition of anxiety disorders and Tourette’s Syndrome, the hope is that even more Pennsylvanians will now be able to find relief through medical marijuana.


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