Pa. medical marijuana sales up 40% since August

Ioannis Pashakis//November 11, 2020

Pa. medical marijuana sales up 40% since August

Ioannis Pashakis//November 11, 2020

Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana industry has brought in more than $1.7 billion since the state’s  program began in early 2018. Since August, sales increased, 40%.

Most of the revenue — $1 billion – was in direct sales patients and their caregivers, said John Collins, director of the state’s medical marijuana program, during the Medical Marijuana Advisory Board’s quarterly meeting on Tuesday.

In the program’s almost three years of operation, Pennsylvania has registered more than 460,000 for eligibility to purchase marijuana from a dispensary for either themselves or someone they care for.

Currently there are 23 qualifying conditions approved for treatment with marijuana. Of those, 80% of patients use the plant-based medicine to treat pain, anxiety and PTSD, according to Collins. During Tuesday’s meeting, the board discussed adding two more to the list —  insomnia, and traumatic brain injury – but neither was approved.

Insomnia was rejected 7-4.

Board member Dr. Bill Trescher, division chief of pediatric neurology at Penn State Hershey Medical Center, said treating insomnia with marijuana could have negative effect on the developing brains of young patients.

“With some of these newer conditions, particularly Tourette’s Syndrome and insomnia, these conditions do not have severe deterioration on brain function but the medical marijuana could,” he said.

But others supported the addition of insomnia, citing patients with other qualifying conditions who said cannabis helped them sleep better.

“I certify a lot of people with cancer and many of them have insomnia as one of their main complaints,” said Dr. Lanie Francis, a Hematologist and Medical Oncologist at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. “Many say that its life changing to be able to sleep. I would say that insomnia is one of the most effective ways that I use medical marijuana on my patients.”

The board unanimously tabled an application to add traumatic brain injury to the list.

Trescher opposed brain injury on the same grounds as insomnina, citing the drug’s effect on the pediatric population as well as the lack of clarity behind the term traumatic brain injury.

The application will be reconsidered during the next meeting in February.

Applications for conditions can be requested for reconsideration by the chairperson of the advisory board. If approved for reconsideration, the requester is able to present their case directly to the board.