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Pa. mulls adding anxiety, Tourette syndrome to list of medical cannabis conditions

Written by Kathleen J. Davis/WESA | Apr 5, 2019 9:28 AM
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Seth Weing/AP

Pennsylvania's medical marijuana program has reached a milestone: more than 100,000 patients have been certified in the commonwealth since medical marijuana was legalized in 2016. Certification means the patient has registered for the medical marijuana program, has had physician approval for use and they've obtained their medical marijuana card. 

People with one of 21 conditions, including epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, Crohn's disease and post-traumatic stress disorder, can be approved to use medical marijuana. In February, Pennsylvania's Medical Marijuana Advisory Board recommended that anxiety and Tourette syndrome be added to the list.

But the final decision ultimately falls to Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine.

"I'm currently reviewing the literature and talking to other experts from around the country in order to help inform my decision," Levine said. "We want to have medical marijuana be available to patients with serious conditions for which there's medical evidence that would support its use."

If approved, the addition of anxiety could greatly expand those eligible for the program. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, about one in five U.S. adults have an anxiety disorder.

The impact of adding Tourette syndrome would be less drastic -- according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it's hard to know how many people have Tourette syndrome, though it's estimated that one in 162 children have it. However, in most cases, childhood tics decrease or disappear in adulthood. 

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