Until now, 21 conditions qualified for Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program. However, the number is set to increase to 23 with Tourette Syndrome and anxiety making it to the list.
According to Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 1 in every 162 children (0.6%) in the US suffers from Tourette Syndrome, while 18% of the adult population deals with anxiety disorders.
Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine told local media that the decision to add the two conditions wasn’t an easy one, but a growing body of evidence suggested that cannabis could be an effective treatment for the said conditions.
Medical marijuana was legalized in Pennsylvania in 2016. However, the state took nearly 2 years to make the program fully functional. The Medical Marijuana Act, 2016, mandates that the state’s program be run by a Director of Medical Marijuana and a 15-member Advisory Board. The board’s duties include monitoring the program, evaluating feedback from the public and industry stakeholders and suggesting changes to the program.
Notably, only 17 conditions were part of the program in 2016 – a number which was increased to 21 in 2018.
The advisory board had voted for anxiety and Tourette Syndrome to be added to the list of qualifying conditions in early 2019. But the proposal was waiting for final approval from the state’s Department of Health.
Dr. Levine says that although marijuana has been approved for the two conditions, it shouldn’t be considered as the first line of treatment. “For both conditions, medical marijuana should not replace traditional therapies but should be used in conjunction with them, only when recommended by a physician.”
The decision will come into force later this month.
Evidence provided by studies
A study conducted by researchers in New Zealand deduced that a combination of 10.8 mg tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and 10 mg cannabidiol (CBD) taken twice daily reduced the frequency and severity of motor and vocal tics in patients battling Tourette Syndrome.
A number of studies have time and again confirmed the anti-anxiety effects of CBD. In fact, a 2017 study claimed that even THC can help tackle anxiety when consumed at lower doses, as THC is biphasic in nature and can worsen anxiety if taken in large amounts.