First State Approves Cannabis to Treat Opioid Addiction

May 18, 2018

On Monday, May 14, 2018, Pennsylvania became the first state to add opioid addiction to its list of approved conditions for medicinal cannabis. In a press release from Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf (1), it was stated that the Department of Health developed temporary regulations to implement the recommendations of the Medical Marijuana Advisory Board. These temporary regulations took effect on May 17, 2018.

The temporary regulations expand the number of serious medical conditions to include neurodegenerative diseases, terminal illness, dyskinetic and spastic movement disorders, and opioid-use disorder. “By adding opioid-use disorder as an approved medical condition under the program, we not only give physicians another tool for treatment of this devastating disease, but we allow for research to be conducted on medical marijuana’s effectiveness in treatment,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said in the press release. “Only approved conditions under the law can be studied through our research program.”

The research program also received approval for eight universities to become Certified Academic Clinical Research Centers in Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program, signaling the first step toward clinical research to commence in the state. “The research component of Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program sets it apart from the rest of the nation,” Governor Wolf said in the press release. “Today, medical research is so limited by the federal government that only a few doctors can even have access to medical marijuana. Pennsylvania’s premiere medical schools will be able to help shape the future of treatment for patients who are in desperate need not just here, but across the country.”

The eight approved universities include

  • Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia;
  • Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, Philadelphia;
  • Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey;
  • Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia;
  • Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia;
  • University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh;
  • Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM), Erie; and
  • Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Philadelphia.