The Pennsylvania Department of Health added anxiety disorders and Tourette's syndrome to a rather short list of health conditions that currently qualify for treatment using medicinal marijuana. On July 20, doctors will legally be able to prescribe medical marijuana for adults diagnosed with anxiety disorders.
"I did not take this decision lightly," Health Secretary, Rachel Levine said. "For both conditions, medical marijuana is not first-line treatment and should not replace traditional therapies, but should be used in conjunction with them, when recommended by a physician."
The state reached its decisions after receiving a recommendation from the state Medical Marijuana Advisory Board. Levine reviewed their research before adding these two ailments to the list of 21 serious illnesses currently allowed to be legally treated or aided by medical marijuana. Levine made her announcement right before a marijuana "summit" she had hosted to discuss the medical marijuana research with university representatives from eight Pennsylvania universities, as well as the recently approved cannabis producers who will partner with their efforts.
Over 18 percent of the United States population is affected by anxiety disorders, making anxiety the most common mental illness in the country according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. With this estimate, roughly 1.73 million Pennsylvanians may qualify to participate in the state's two-year-old marijuana program, a program that has already seen over 137,000 residents sign up.
In her announcement, Levine reiterated that patients with anxiety disorders should continue to pursue counseling and therapy to manage their illness while using medical marijuana in conjunction. She also stated that medical marijuana is not currently recommended in the treating of children and adolescents with anxiety disorders because their brains are still developing.
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Currently, in Pennsylvania, doctors can prescribe medical marijuana for the following medical conditions:
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
Cancer, including remission therapy
Damage to the nervous tissue of the central nervous system (brain-spinal cord) with an objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity and other associated neuropathies
Dyskinetic and spastic movement disorders
Inflammatory bowel disease
Opioid use disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Severe chronic or intractable pain of neuropathic origin or acute chronic or intractable pain
Sickle cell anemia