Pennsylvania legalized medical marijuana in 2016, allowing it to be used to treat 17 medical conditions.

That list has now grown to include 23 conditions, as listed below. Keep in mind that someone with one of the conditions must have it certified by a doctor who is state-approved. Then they can obtain a card enabling them to buy medical marijuana at a medical marijuana dispensary.

Here are the 23 conditions and background information on each:

1. Anxiety disorders

This newly-added condition went into affect July 12, 2019. It’s expected to greatly expand the number of people who qualify for treatment with medical marijuana, given that nearly 20 percent of Americans have an anxiety disorder. For anxiety, medical marijuana “is not first line treatment and should not replace traditional therapies but should be used in conjunction with them, when recommended by a physician,” said Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania’s secretary of health.

2. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease

Commonly referred to as ALS, it’s a disease that interferes with the brain’s ability to communicate with the muscles, gradually causing paralysis.

3. Autism

A definition from an organization says autism “refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences.”

4. Cancer

Medical marijuana can stimulate the appetite, helping to offset the lack of appetite and resulting weakness often experienced by people undergoing cancer treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation. Cancer patients also seek medical marijuana for pain relief.

5. Crohn’s Disease

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease. It causes inflammation of your digestive tract, which can lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition. Inflammation caused by Crohn’s disease can involve different areas of the digestive tract in different people.”

6. Damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity

This refers to the kind of damage that can result from injury or accident.

7. Dyskinetic and spastic movement disorders

These are defined as abnormal, involuntary, uncontrollable movements.

8. Epilepsy

According to the Epilepsy Foundation, “Epilepsy is a chronic disorder, the hallmark of which is recurrent, unprovoked seizures. A person is diagnosed with epilepsy if they have two unprovoked seizures (or one unprovoked seizure with the likelihood of more) that were not caused by some known and reversible medical condition like alcohol withdrawal or extremely low blood sugar.”

9. Glaucoma

According to the National Eye Institute, “Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damage the eye’s optic nerve and can result in vision loss and blindness. However, with early detection and treatment, you can often protect your eyes against serious vision loss.”

10. HIV and AIDS

According to Medline Plus, “HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It harms your immune system by destroying the white blood cells that fight infection. This puts you at risk for serious infections and certain cancers. AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. It is the final stage of infection with HIV.”

11. Huntington’s Disease

According to the Huntington’s Disease Society of America, “Huntington’s disease is a fatal genetic disorder that causes the progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain. It deteriorates a person’s physical and mental abilities during their prime working years and has no cure. Huntington’s is known as the quintessential family disease because every child of a parent with Huntington’s has a 50/50 chance of carrying the faulty gene. Today, there are approximately 30,000 symptomatic Americans and more than 200,000 at-risk of inheriting the disease.

12. Inflammatory Bowel Disease

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Inflammatory bowel disease is a term for two conditions, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, that are characterized by chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, or GI tract. This prolonged inflammation results in damage to the GI tract.

13. Intractable Seizures

These are seizures that can’t be controlled through normal treatments or available medications. Some research shows that children with intractable seizures have benefitted from medical marijuana. In fact, parents of children with intractable seizures were a major force in persuading Pennsylvania lawmakers to legalize medical marijuana.

14. Multiple Sclerosis

According to the Mayo Clinic, multiple sclerosis, or MS, occurs when the immune system attacks the protective sheath, myelin, that covers nerve fibers and causes communication problems between the brain and the rest of the body. Eventually, the disease can cause the nerves themselves to deteriorate or become permanently damaged.

15. Neurodegenerative diseases

According to the National Institutes of Health, “Neurodegenerative diseases occur when nerve cells in the brain or peripheral nervous system lose function over time and ultimately die.” Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most common.

16. Neuropathies (nerve damage)

According to the National Institutes of Health, neuropathy, commonly called peripheral neuropathy, is a condition that develops as a result of damage to the peripheral nervous system — the vast communications network that transmits information between the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) and every other part of the body. Symptoms can range from numbness or tingling, to pricking sensations, or muscle weakness.

17. Opioid use disorder

In May, 2018, Pennsylvania became the first state to allow medical marijuana as a possible treatment for opioid addiction. It’s available “if all other treatment fails, or if a physician recommends that it be used in conjunction with traditional therapies.”

18. Parkinson’s disease

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. It develops gradually, sometimes starting with a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand. But while a tremor may be the most well-known sign of Parkinson’s disease, the disorder also commonly causes stiffness or slowing of movement.”

19. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “PTSD is a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event.” Veterans who believe their PTSD, and particularly the accompanying anxiety, can benefit from medical marijuana, were another strong force in persuading Pennsylvania lawmakers to legalize medical marijuana.

20. Severe chronic or intractable pain of neuropathic origin or severe chronic or intractable pain in which conventional therapeutic intervention and opiate therapy is contraindicated or ineffective

This refers to chronic, severe pain. Some doctors and researchers believe that medical marijuana can provide a highly-effective and non-addictive alternative to opioid painkillers.

21. Sickle Cell Anemia

According to MedlinePlus, “Sickle cell anemia is a disease in which [the] body produces abnormally shaped red blood cells. The cells are shaped like a crescent or sickle. They don’t last as long as normal, round red blood cells. This leads to anemia [where the blood has lowered ability to carry oxygen]. The sickle cells also get stuck in blood vessels, blocking blood flow. This can cause pain and organ damage.”

22. Terminal illness

Generally defined as illnesses considered untreatable or incurable.

23. Tourette syndrome

According to the Mayo Clinic, Tourette syndrome “is a disorder that involves repetitive movements or unwanted sounds (tics) that can’t be easily controlled. For instance, you might repeatedly blink your eyes, shrug your shoulders or blurt out unusual sounds or offensive words.”

Source: Penn Live
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