And the panel wants to add people with anxiety and Tourette syndrome to the list of those eligible for treatment with the substance.
Those were two recommendations made Friday morning by the state Medical Marijuana Advisory Board.
One – the recommendation to add anxiety and Tourette Syndrome – must be approved by the secretary of health. The other – to allow the sale of marijuana-infused food and drink, known as edibles – must be approved by the state legislature, according to Nate Wardle, press secretary with the Department of Health.
“The board doesn’t have the ability to approve edibles,” Wardle said.
The board did add dry-leaf marijuana as a legal form of medical marijuana but that was before the state’s regulations on medical marijuana were finalized. Now, Wardle said, new rules require legislative approval.
Cannabis-based edibles were an estimated $1 billion business in the U.S. and Canada in 2017 and are projected to reach more than $4 billion in 2022, according to Arcview Market Research.
Physiatrist Jordan Klein of Premier Medical and Rehabilitation Center in Camp Hill said patients with medical marijuana cards ask him about marijuana edibles such as gummies.
“I think it is an interesting road to go down,” Klein said.
Klein said edible products offer an option to patients who don’t want to advertise that they are using medical marijuana, though the state already authorizes medical marijuana pills that would appeal to the same market. Other forms of MMJ include creams, tinctures and oils.
However, he is unsure of the consequences of allowing edibles, noting that they could make medical marijuana use more recreational than medical. “I would be scared that patients wouldn’t focus on the medical aspect.”
In December the board announced it would be taking requests from state residents and doctors on which conditions should be added to the list of medical conditions eligible for treatment with medical marijuana. The first two conditions approved through this method were Tourette syndrome and anxiety, which will be sent to Levine for a final opinion.
But the board rejected a number of other requests, some because of the way they were proposed. The requests coupled similar medical conditions into one, such as Autoimmune Hepatitis and irritable bowel syndrome.
“Both have similar medical diagnoses and backgrounds but it’s impossible to evaluate them together,” Wardle said. “As we move this process forward it would be much easier for the board to look at conditions if only one is on the application.”
The board also declined to include Addison’s disease and migraine headaches, claiming there was not enough medical literature to prove that marijuana would alleviate them.
Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Advisory board has 15 members including Secretary of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine and a number of doctors and patient advocates appointed by the House and Senate.