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Change is in the air as Pennsylvania adds Medical Marijuana Therapies


Now that medical marijuana is officially legal in Pennsylvania, there is great anticipation about the parameters of what will be allowed under the state’s Medical Marijuana Act, known also as Act 16. With 24 states now approving the use of medical marijuana for specified medical afflictions, there is a plethora of proposed regulations and different applications from state to state.

While we in Pennsylvania must look first at our own law for immediate guidance, the experiences in other jurisdictions will be worthy of attention going forward. Although the power of state’s rights has opened a path for Pennsylvanians and others to get around the still-harsh treatment of marijuana at the federal level, it is also true that the hodge-podge of rules and regulations from state to state are difficult to categorize and view in context as a whole. In any event, we fully endorse the focus, intent and letter of the law: this is strictly an event of medical dimensions and it will be available only to people truly suffering from the referenced conditions.

Despite the importance of state preferences, one hopes that someday there will be a unified set of protocols for medical marijuana that can be generally relied on no matter what jurisdiction you sit in. As we research the medical findings throughout the world, we find certain themes emerging, and we see many of these discoveries incorporated into the Pennsylvania Act. However, a great amount of research remains necessary as we move forward.

A general summary of medical progress to date goes like this: Some uses are pretty well established and further research will seemingly be cumulative, whereas a number of other uses are based on a collection of individual experiences not yet fully verified by medical science. According to Prevention Magazine’s online journal, and some independent research by PA Cannabis, the verdict is rated A or B on the following medical uses of cannabis substances and preparations:

  • Nausea relief from chemotherapy and other conditions;

  • Relieving the burning pains in the hands and feet from diabetes, AIDS, spinal cord injuries and other causes;

  • Controlling muscle spasms or other symptoms of multiple sclerosis;

  • Reducing the number of seizures in children and adults with Dravet Syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, types of epilepsy resistant to current meds;

  • Easing the symptoms of Crohn’s Disease, an inflammatory bowel disease that afflicts the small intestine.

  • TCH and CBD have been shown to slow or halt the growth of tumor cells, according to the American Cancer Society; intensive research continues;

  • Parkinson’s – reducing the tremors as well as the stiffness in the arms and legs;

  • Relaxation and counteracting intense anger in Autism patients, along with some social steps forward for some patients; intensive research is taking off on this subject matter;

  • Evidence of relief for migraines, chronic pain, pain caused by neuropathy, and other pain syndromes;

  • Increased appetite in people with HIV-AIDS;

  • Use in the treatment of spasticity.

There are several other uses under study. In a non-medical sense, a common theme is that the cannabis substances seem to consistently do well in relaxing the nerves, muscles and cellular dynamics in a person’s physical body. This appears to bring a relaxation and dramatic release of physical pressures, including relief against emotional overlays. Continuing research may reveal this to be great therapy for bodily areas being assaulted by intensive pressure from runaway medical afflictions.

Certainly, it must be remembered that the above therapies only work for a percentage of persons. Not everyone will get relief from a particular medical remedy. These are issues for patients to work out with their doctors. All medical treatment involves a varying degree of trial and error.

One of the impressive features of the Pennsylvania Act is that funds coming in from growers and dispensaries will be partially pumped into research of medical marijuana. While some states have to live with a begrudgingly limited medical marijuana bill, Pennsylvania has devoted a good faith effort to increasing research, protecting the safety of the patients, while at the same time striving to make the substances available to those who need it. Although the steps to getting the program functional will be burdened by typical bureaucratic delays, we nonetheless look forward with great anticipation to ushering in a new age of medical progress in the treatment of disease.  

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