Updated 7 hours ago
In Pennsylvania, additional conditions for medical marijuana treatment may soon be considered.
The Medical Marijuana Medical Advisory Board approved a new procedure to modify and expand the list of 21 serious conditions for which patients may use cannabis as a treatment, Health Ministry spokesman Nate Wardle said.
In the coming weeks, the Board will start accepting research-based petitions to add the qualification conditions to the list, and it intends to discuss and vote on the first round of submissions at its next meeting on 1
Patients' advocates say they hope the change would impact patients on patients who have medical issues that may benefit from cannabis but are excluded from getting it legal – such as depression, anxiety, and insomnia.
"For years, Pennsylvanians have been using marijuana improperly to treat a variety of diseases that are not on the list of states," Dr. Roxanne Rick of Cannabis Care Certification Centers, which aims to provide people with an alternative to opioids for the treatment of pain and addiction.
Since the launch of marijuana for medical use in February in Pennsylvania, the four-physicians organization has assisted more than 1,000 eligible patients through offices and mobile deployments in Uniontown, Monroeville, Bethel Park, Delmont and the State To certify college.
Most patients who seek medical marijuana seek help with the most qualified conditions for chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder, Rick said. Some may be able to obtain a card to help with a problem such as migraine – which is not on the list – when a doctor calls his migraine problem a chronic pain or a recurrent pain that lasts longer
90 days. Others benefit from marijuana as relief for an unlisted health problem, such as anxiety, just because they also have a qualifying condition such as chronic pain.
"We definitely call for people to call us, who we know would benefit from medical marijuana, but they do not fall into those 21 slots," Dr. Elizabeth Spaar of Spectrum Family Practice of Verona, focused on the treatment of children and adults for addiction, autism and autoimmune diseases induced by PANS / PANDAS infections. "Fear is common. It is well known that marijuana is very helpful in treating anxiety, but it is not a qualification condition. So if they have no other qualification condition, we can not offer them, which is extremely frustrating.
"In particular, I would love to see anxiety, depression, and ADHD," said Spaar.
Dr. Medical Marijuana Solutions' John Metcalf said medical marijuana could be expanded to support not only unlisted mental health problems, but also many types of physical problems, from migraines to Lyme disease.
"Expanding the list is for the benefit of the patient," said Metcalf, who focuses on marijuana patient certification after having completed his 30-year career in primary care, urgency medicine and occupational medicine had finished.
Metcalf and Spaar stated that Pennsylvania is among less than a handful of states that have put autism on the list of medical marijuana products. Usually children take cannabis in tincture or capsule form.
"There are many states where parents with autism have worked very hard to put them on the list and were unsuccessful. That's why we're lucky, "said Spaar. "It's extremely helpful for the aggression and anger that these kids can get, it's also very helpful for obsession … they tend to be a lot of stress and anxiety and if they are able to calm a lot of them, they tend to to make progress and to develop spiritually. "
In the spring, the state authority added incurable diseases and opioid addiction to the list of qualification conditions.
"In patients with opioid dependence, we certainly had patients who relied on methadone or suboxone and were exempted and had medical marijuana," said Spaar. "We had others who were given the opiate drugs directly with the medical marijuana because it helps with the full range of withdrawal symptoms, and they have just reported a significant improvement in the quality of life."
Doctors Want to Say More
Several western Pennsylvania doctors who prescribe medical marijuana said the new process of amending the list of states was encouraging – but they also complained that it was not going far enough To extend access to cannabis and give more authority to physicians prescribe it.
"I would love it if they recognized the autonomy of a physician's medical decision-making, rather than us shackling," said Spaar.
In California, for example, physicians may recommend medical marijuana based on condition lists or "another disease that relieves marijuana".
"It makes sense for me that the personal physician of a patient should be able to review the research and diagnosis with the patient to decide whether or not it is a viable treatment option "Metcalf said.
Proponents remain skeptical of how difficult it will be to approve a new state.
As part of the new procedure, the terms of which are currently set out and published on the Health Department's website, a subcommittee of the state agency will examine the petitions on terms submitted to a state at least 15 days. Quarterly Advisory Forum Meetings , Wardle. The proposal will then be discussed and voted on at the meeting.
Commenting on the Board of Directors' recommendation, Pennsylvania-based Health Minister Rachel Levine said that with increasing research into "the efficacy and benefits of medical marijuana as a drug" an extension of the list might be appropriate "to patients help and get access to a drug trench, which may be the only treatment or palliative course available.
The change is "pretty clear for Pennsylvania" and comes from a referral cited in the May Board's report, Wardle said.
It is unclear how much research and evidence the subcommittee will need to approve a new disease or how long it will take for patients with the newly-approved medical condition to receive marijuana medical cards. The board is not sure how many petitions are expected, Wardle said. Medical marijuana is legal in at least 32 states, although marijuana in any form remains an illegal controlled substance under federal law. This has severely limited US research on their effects.
"Pennsylvania has done things other states have not even come to, such as autism as a condition, and we are the only state in the Union that has allowed eight medical schools to use marijuana for medical research Metcalf said.
Governor Tom Wolf signed the Law on the Legalization of Medicinal Cannabis in April 2016.
In May, dispensaries began selling medical marijuana in pills, oils, tinctures and ointments and then in the form of dry leaves or flowers. 1. The State Department of Health regulates the program that continues to prohibit patients from smoking dry leaf marijuana. It has to be evaporated.
Since this month, more than 87,000 patients and nearly 10,000 nurses have registered for the state's medical marijuana program, and more than 56,700 patient certifications have been issued, Wardle said.
Nearly 900 out of more than 1,300 physicians who signed up for the program were admitted as prescription physicians.
The state's 40th medical marijuana pharmacy opened two weeks ago, Solevo Wellness's Jackson Pointe in Zelienople.
The next sessions of the State Medical Marijuana Advisory Board will be held on February 1, May 15, August 14, and November 13, 2019.
For more information, call (717) 547-3047 or e-mail RA-DHMedMarijuana@pa.gov. Comments may also be filed with the Pennsylvania Office of Medical Marijuana, Department of Health, Room 628, Health and Welfare Building, 625 Forster Street, Harrisburg, PA 17120.
Natasha Lindstrom is a writer on the Tribune Review.
You can contact Natasha at 412-380-8514.
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