Medical Marijuana

Pennsylvania Health Dept. to Expand Medical Marijuana Program, Allow Flower Vaporization

The Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine announced the department will implement all of the advisory board’s recommended changes to the medical marijuana program. They include:

  • Allowing patients to use whole plant, flower cannabis via vaporization.
  • Rewording the qualifying condition “severe chronic or intractable pain” to delete the phrase “in which conventional therapeutic intervention and opiate therapy is contraindicated or ineffective.”
  • Allowing patients to qualify if they are undergoing “addiction substitute therapy — opioid reduction.”
  • Adding the following conditions to the program: cancer while in remission therapy, neurodegenerative diseases, dyskinetic and spastic movement disorders, and terminal illness.
  • Eventually requiring minor patients to have recommendations from a pediatrician or other pediatric or adolescent health specialist. (This could be problematic due to the very small number of pediatricians who are recommending cannabis.)

The department will promulgate regulations with these changes on May 12, and they will then undergo legislative review.

These changes would have a major impact for Pennsylvania patients. Allowing cannabis in its flower form is crucial to affordability. And with the revised wording for severe pain, Pennsylvania will no longer steer pain patients to more dangerous medications, such as opiates.

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Medical Marijuana

New Connecticut Medical Marijuana Provisions Take Effect

This week, a new law that improves Connecticut’s medical marijuana program went into effect. Among other changes, for the first time, certain patients who are under 18 now qualify to use medical cannabis in the Constitution state. Previously, Connecticut had been the only medical marijuana state to completely exclude seriously ill minors from its program.Seal_of_Connecticut.svg
To participate in the Connecticut medical marijuana program, minors must have been diagnosed with terminal illness, an irreversible spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, or severe or intractable epilepsy. In addition, they must have a written certification from two doctors — a primary care provider and a specialist. Finally, a parent or guardian must submit a written statement consenting to the patient using medical cannabis and agreeing to serve as the minor’s primary caregiver.
The new law extends legal protections to nurses who administer medical marijuana to patients in hospitals, and it also creates a research program. The department is now accepting research applications from hospitals, universities, dispensaries, and growers. Research subjects and employees of approved applicants will also have to register with the department.

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