Updated on December 6, 2018.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Many of the stigmas attached to cannabis as a gateway drug have vanquished as medical research studies continue to back marijuana as a therapeutic and viable treatment option in healing a myriad of health disorders and complications. When Pennsylvania legalized medical marijuana back in 2016, patients enjoyed increased access to the alternative medications necessary to alleviate many of their daily side effects and health disorders.
Although PA established its medical marijuana program several years ago, the state continues to develop its regulations today.
PA Medical Marijuana Program Updates
Pennsylvania became the 24th U.S. state to legalize medical marijuana in April 2016. In the two years since medical cannabis access became legal, the state has authorized various bills that now make it easier to access medical marijuana in a variety of forms.
Initially, medical marijuana patients in Pennsylvania could only access their cannabis medications in liquid, tincture, oil, pill or topical form. The inability to lawfully purchase cannabis flowers inevitably meant smoking or vaporizing marijuana was excluded for medical purposes. The ability to ingest marijuana in another form ensures patients a higher likelihood of developing the right treatment plan for their symptoms.
In April 2018, Health Secretary Rachel Levine declared Pennsylvania medical marijuana program members would soon be able to purchase cannabis flower from qualifying dispensaries. Legislators also expanded the list of qualifying diseases for medical cannabis treatment.
The state’s medical marijuana program is projected to initiate these new changes within the upcoming months. If you’re a current medical cannabis patient, be sure to stay up-to-date on the latest regulations to ensure you receive the optimum level of care to treat your condition.
PA Medical Marijuana Clinical Research
One of the primary ways medical professionals are increasing their understanding of cannabis’s medicinal properties is through clinical research studies that provide evidence of this substance’s ability to control and treat various symptoms and health complications. In these studies, trained scientists evaluate how cannabis influences an individual’s symptoms. When PA officially legalized medical marijuana in 2016, the state incorporated provisions into its bill that endorsed further cannabis studies in various medical schools. Currently, several medical schools scattered throughout Pennsylvania are in the process of crafting their medical marijuana research programs, as per the wishes of the state.
Clinical research studies authorized by the Pennsylvania Department of Health legally allow medical professionals and researchers to examine cannabis in controlled research settings. Within a year of conducting their studies, researchers must submit their findings to the state so Pennsylvania officials can collect valuable medical information that may help current and future qualified cannabis patients.
At the time of writing, more than 800 physicians have registered to participate in the state’s medical marijuana research programs. As health professionals continue to collaborate and conduct research studies, the general understanding of marijuana’s medicinal and therapeutic properties is likely to continue to grow.
New Qualifying Conditions in PA
Pennsylvania residents should be aware the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana access within the state is still evolving. Which new health disorders are now included in the Pennsylvania medical marijuana program? As of April 2018, patients who possess the following health conditions can now access cannabis for medical purposes:
Cancer remission therapy
Spastic movement disorders
When the medical marijuana bill was first approved in 2016, 17 qualifying medical conditions were incorporated into the state’s determination of medical cannabis eligibility. Some of the following health disorders and illnesses are already eligible for medical cannabis use in the state:
Pennsylvania’s already extensive list of qualifying medical conditions will expand to include the treatment of even more diseases and disorders. What does this mean for Pennsylvania residents?
New regulations surrounding medical cannabis use will make it easier for patients with serious medical problems to access the medicine they need to find everyday relief. Because recreational cannabis is still prohibited in the state, it’s crucial to join Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program to access all marijuana medications lawfully and safely.
If you have a health condition that isn’t mentioned in the list above, remember that Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana laws are still developing. Many research studies back cannabis as a viable treatment option for several additional disorders due to its ability to actively manage nausea, pain, inflammation, mood issues and various other discomforts.
Pennsylvania has established a medical marijuana program that makes it simple to access the everyday cannabis products you need. Once you become an authorized patient with the state and receive your medical marijuana ID card, you can visit a local dispensary to browse through assortments of lab-tested marijuana products.
Meet With a Certified Doctor to Learn More About Medical Marijuana Access in PA
As doctors, herbalists and other health professionals continue to research the therapeutic properties of cannabis, legislators will likely continue to add more illnesses and health disorders to the list of qualifying medical marijuana conditions.
Not sure if your condition makes you qualified for medical marijuana use in Pennsylvania? Because the laws surrounding medical marijuana access are still developing in many states, including PA, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the rules that define your state’s cannabis boundaries before getting started. Pennsylvania only recently legalized medical marijuana in 2016 and is still in the process of expanding its regulations so more patients can enjoy access to the medications necessary to manage their unwanted symptoms.
Do you believe your health issue qualifies you for medical marijuana use in PA? If so, be sure to discuss your options with a licensed health professional first. To access medical marijuana, you must meet with a physician certified by the Department of Health to diagnosis your condition. Once approved, you can apply for the state’s medical marijuana program and kick-start your wellness plan successfully. To learn more about medical cannabis use in PA, schedule a visit with a doctor near you.