Medical Marijuana Board suggests adding dry leaf, new conditions to Act 16

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) - After months of work, the Medical Marijuana Advisory Board has made its suggested improvements for Act 16.

"I think in general we were all on the same page," said Molly Robertson, a patient advocate board member.

"I was very pleased with overall voting," said Luke Shultz, a patient advocate board member.

The board voted unanimously to add dry leaf as a form of medicine, which could lower costs for patients. Right now, only oil or pill form is legal.

"To make the concentrated oil, it takes a lot more of the marijuana and it also takes a lot more time for it to be produced, so those costs are always higher," Robertson said.

The dry leaf would have to be vaporized. 

"The law specifically states that you can not sell a smokeable form of medical marijuana, so this would not be in a combustible form. You wouldn't see medical marijuana cigarettes at dispensaries," said April Hutcheson, the director of communications for the Health Department.

The board also approved adding cancer remission therapy to the list of treatable conditions as well as addiction therapy. Addiction therapy would allow a doctor to prescribe medical marijuana to those struggling with addiction to different substances.

"I have heard from the patient community over the years and they have been able to use cannabis therapy to get off of tobacco, alcohol, opioids, and other medications and drugs. So this would really allow for the fight on opioids to expand in another direction," Shultz said. "If it gets approved by the secretary of Health, we will be the first state in the United States to allow for that."

Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine has up to a year to approve the suggested changes.

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