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Advisory board supports making anxiety disorders approved condition for Pa. medical marijuana

Intelligencer Journal - 2/7/2019

Anxiety disorders and Tourette syndrome could be added to the list of approved conditions for using medical marijuana, and edible forms of the drug could be made available to patients.

The recommendations, made recently by Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana advisory board, would need further actions to go into effect, according to Pennsylvania Department of Health spokesman Nate Wardle.

He wrote in an email that adding the conditions would require approval from Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine, and adding edibles would require action from the legislature.

Wardle wrote in an email that there is no timetable for Levine’s decision, and in making it she “will not only look at the application and materials referenced in the application, but also all available research regarding the condition and the ability of medical marijuana to treat the condition.”

Regulators added four new conditions to the original list of 17 last spring. The current list has 21 conditions ranging from autism to severe chronic pain to post-traumatic stress disorder.

Permitting marijuana-infused food and drink products, or edibles, would require action from the Legislature, Wardle wrote, and the board's recommendation called for “robust labeling and warnings in order to deter accidental use by children.”

“The approval,” he wrote, “shows the Legislature that the board has reviewed and approved adding edibles as an acceptable form of medical marijuana.”

Edibles can come in many forms. California legalized recreational marijuana in January 2018, and The Los Angeles Times reported that edibles are available “in a wide variety of forms, including soft drinks, snacks and candies.”

The board voted 5-3 in favor of adding anxiety disorders, 7-1 in favor of adding Tourette Syndrome and 8-1 in favor of adding edibles, according to Wardle.

The board in December outlined a process for doctors to recommend that serious medical conditions be changed, reduced or added.

The accompanying form asks whether the condition has been approved in any other state and requests additional information including data supporting efficacy of medical marijuana as a treatment for the condition.

The two conditions now being considered for addition came through that process, according to Wardle.

Download PDF Serious conditions process

Who can get medical marijuana

The Pennsylvania law passed in 2016 said individuals could purchase medical marijuana from a dispensary if a participating doctor certified that they had one of 17 qualifying serious medical conditions.

Regulators added four additional qualifying conditions in spring 2018, and now have recommended that two more be included. The final decision is now in the hands of Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine.

Recommended additions

* Anxiety disorders

* Tourette syndrome

Added spring 2018

* Opioid use disorder, if certain conditions are met

* Neurodegenerative diseases

* Dyskinetic and spastic movement disorders

* Terminal illness

Original list

* Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, aka ALS

* Autism

* Cancer, including remission therapy

* Crohn’s disease

* Damage to the nervous tissue of the central nervous system, if certain conditions are met

* Epilepsy

* Glaucoma


* Huntington's disease

* Inflammatory bowel disease, aka IBS

* Intractable seizures

* Multiple sclerosis, aka MS

* Neuropathies

* Parkinson's disease

* Post-traumatic stress disorder, aka PTSD

* Severe chronic or intractable pain

* Sickle cell anemia

Credit: HEATHER STAUFFER | Staff Writer