Pa. lets pub­lic add con­di­tions for pot treat­ment

Ap­pli­ca­tion process al­lows ex­pan­sion of med­i­cal mar­i­juana.

The Morning Call - - STATE/REGION - By An­drew Wagaman

Think Penn­syl­va­nia's med­i­cal mar­i­juana pro­gram should al­low treat­ment for more con­di­tions?

A new process an­nounced by Gov. Tom Wolf's ad­min­is­tra­tion Fri­day en­ables both physi­cians and the pub­lic to ap­ply to have de­pres­sion, anx­i­ety, in­som­nia or any other ail­ment added to the ex­ist­ing list of 21 qual­i­fy­ing con­di­tions the state rec­og­nizes.

Sim­ply ask­ing won't cut it. Those fill­ing out the ap­pli­ca­tion should pro­vide doc­u­men­ta­tion and ref­er­ences to re­search show­ing that the ben­e­fits of treat­ing a par­tic­u­lar con­di­tion with med­i­cal mar­i­juana out­weigh po­ten­tial health risks.

A sub­com­mit­tee of the Med­i­cal Mar­i­juana Ad­vi­sory Board will re­view sub­mit­ted ap­pli­ca­tions be­fore pre­sent­ing them to the en­tire board at a sub­se­quent meet­ing. The en­tire board will then ap­prove or re­ject the ap­pli­ca­tion.

If re­jected, ap­pli­cants can ask the chair of the board to re­con­sider. A se­cond de­nial means the re­quester will have to wait one year be­fore try­ing again — un­less new sci­en­tific ev­i­dence is re­leased.

“As med­i­cal lit­er­a­ture sur­round­ing the uses of med­i­cal mar­i­juana ex­pands, we want to en­sure our list of qual­i­fy­ing con­di­tions meets the needs of Penn­syl­va­ni­ans,” Sec­re­tary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said in a news re­lease. “This process will al­low those with se­ri­ous med­i­cal con­di­tions to ap­ply to have their con­di­tion be part of the list of qual­i­fy­ing con­di­tions, with the sup­port of med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als and doc­u­men­ta­tion that sup­ports their ap­pli­ca­tion.”

More than 95,000 pa­tients in Penn­syl­va­nia have reg­is­tered to par­tic­i­pate in the med­i­cal mar­i­juana pro­gram, and more than 64,000 have iden­ti­fi­ca­tion cards and are able to pur­chase med­i­cal mar­i­juana at a dis­pen­sary. About 1,360 physi­cians have reg­is­tered for the pro­gram, 945 of whom have been ap­proved as prac­ti­tion­ers.

In the Le­high Val­ley, reg­is­tered pa­tients can visit the Key­stone Canna Reme­dies dis­pen­sary on Ste­fko Boule­vard in Beth­le­hem or the Mis­sion Penn­syl­va­nia dis­pen­sary on West Em­maus Av­enue in Al­len­town.

If you think you have a qual­i­fy­ing con­di­tion but aren't sure how to regis­ter for an iden­ti­fi­ca­tion card, check out the Depart­ment of Health's on­line guide at www.health.pa.gov.

The state Leg­is­la­ture rec­og­nized 17 con­di­tions when it adopted the Med­i­cal Mar­i­juana Act in 2016. The Med­i­cal Mar­i­juana Ad­vi­sory Board added four more ear­lier this year.

Con­di­tions in­clude ALS, autism, can­cer (in­clud­ing re­mis­sion ther­apy), Crohn's dis­ease, se­vere chronic pain, opi­oid ad­dic­tion, Parkin­son's, PTSD and epilepsy.

awaga­[email protected] Twit­ter @an­drewwaga­man 610-820-6764

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