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

Apr 23, 2018 addiction substitute therapy, cancer, chronic pain, dyskinetic and spastic movement disorders, flower, Health Secretary, neurodegenerative diseases, opioid reduction, pediatrician, Pennsylvania, Rachel Levine, terminal illness, whole plant


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.