Governor Tom Wolf announced today that the Pennsylvania Department of Health has approved eight universities as Certified Academic Clinical Research Centers in Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program, signaling the first step towards clinical research to commence in the commonwealth.
“The research component of Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program sets it apart from the rest of the nation,” Gov. Tom Wolf said. “Today, medical research is so limited by the federal government that only a few doctors can even have access to medical marijuana. Pennsylvania’s premiere medical schools will be able to help shape the future of treatment for patients who are in desperate need not just here, but across the country.”
The eight universities include:
- Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia;
- Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, Philadelphia;
- Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey;
- Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia;
- Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia;
- University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh;
- Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM), Erie; and
- Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Philadelphia.
Additionally, the Department of Health developed temporary regulations to implement the recommendations of the Medical Marijuana Advisory Board, which appeared in the May 12 Pennsylvanian Bulletin. These temporary regulations take effect on May 17.
“We have expanded the number of serious medical conditions to include neurodegenerative diseases, terminal illness, dyskinetic and spastic movement disorders and opioid-use disorder,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “It’s important to note that medical marijuana is not a substitute for proven treatments for opioid-use disorder. In Pennsylvania, medical marijuana will be available to patients if all other treatment fails, or if a physician recommends that it be used in conjunction with traditional therapies.”
Pennsylvania is the first state to add opioid-use disorder separately as an approved condition for medical marijuana patients.
“By adding opioid-use disorder as an approved medical condition under the program, we not only give physicians another tool for treatment of this devastating disease, but we allow for research to be conducted on medical marijuana’s effectiveness in treatment,” Dr. Levine said. “Only approved conditions under the law can be studied through our research program.”
Other recommendations include:
- Revising the serious chronic pain definition to no longer require patients to use opioids before using medical marijuana;
- Permitting medical marijuana to be dispensed in dry leaf or plant form, for administration by vaporization;
- Allowing physicians to opt out of the public-facing practitioner list while remaining in the Patient and Caregiver Registry; and
- Requiring patients to pay the $50 medical marijuana identification card fee once in a 12-month period.
More than 37,000 patients have registered to participate in the medical marijuana program, with over 16,000 who have received their identification cards and received medical marijuana at a dispensary. 1,000 physicians have registered for the program with more than 600 certified as practitioners.
The Medical Marijuana Program was signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf on April 17, 2016. Since that time, the department has:
- Completed temporary regulations for growers/processors, dispensaries, physicians, patients, laboratories, and academic clinical research centers and clinical registrants, all of which have been published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin;
- Issued Phase I permits to grower/processors and dispensaries;
- Developed the Medical Marijuana Physician Workgroup;
- Convened the Medical Marijuana Advisory Board;
- Approved six training providers for physician continuing-education;
- Approved four laboratories to test medication before it is delivered to patients;
- Launched registries for patients and caregivers, as well as physicians;
- Registered more than 37,000 patients for the program;
- Dispensed more than 31,000 medical marijuana products;
- Approved 23 dispensaries and 12 grower/processers to begin operations;
- Continued to work with permittees to ensure they will be operational; and
- Issued permit applications for Phase II of the program for grower/processors and dispensaries.
The Medical Marijuana Program offers medical marijuana to patients who are residents of Pennsylvania and under a practitioner’s care for the treatment of a serious medical condition as defined by the Medical Marijuana Law.
Source: Pennsylvania Governor’s office