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Pennsylvania Adds Anxiety Disorders To Medical Marijuana Program

People suffering from anxiety disorders and Tourette Syndrome will soon be able to buy medical marijuana in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said in a statement that effective July 20, anxiety disorders and Tourette Syndrome will be approved as serious medical conditions in the state's medical marijuana program.

The approval comes after recommendation of the Medical Marijuana Advisory Board and a review of medical research on the use of marijuana to treat these conditions.

"I do not take this decision lightly, and do have recommendations for physicians, dispensary pharmacists and patients in terms of the use of medical marijuana to treat these conditions. 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," Dr. Levine said.

Dr. Levine also advised patients to consult their healthcare providers to see if medical marijuana will be beneficial to them. Patients with anxiety disorders should continue to pursue counseling and therapy to manage their illness.

Research has indicated that medical marijuana with low tetrahydrocannabinol or THC and high cannabidoil or CBD content are more effective for treatment of anxiety disorders and is recommended for short-term use.

CBD is a naturally-occurring cannabinoid constituent of cannabis. It is a chemical in the marijuana plant often used for medicinal purposes, and does not have the intoxicating effects like those caused by THC. CBD is believed to relieve or ease symptoms related to health problems.

"In addition, medical marijuana is not recommended to treat children and adolescents with anxiety disorders, as their brains are still developing," Dr. Levine said.

Dr. Levine also warned that pregnant women with any of the approved serious medical conditions should not use medical marijuana as its impact on the fetus is unknown.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, there are nearly 111,000 active patients who have received certifications under Pennsylvania's medical marijuana program.

Of the more than 1,600 physicians registered for the program, more than 1,160 have been approved as practitioners.

The state's medical marijuana program was signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf on April 17, 2016.

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