The Pennsylvania Health Department is adding anxiety disorders and Tourette’s syndrome to the list of conditions that can qualify people to obtain legal medical cannabis.
CBD, has proven particularly promising as an anti-anxiety treatment.
The heath secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, announced Thursday she’ll be adding them as of July 20. They’ll join 21 other qualifying conditions recognized by the state, including cancer, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chronic pain, and, in some cases, opioid use disorder.
“I do not take this decision lightly, and do have recommendations for physicians, dispensary pharmacists and patients in terms of the use of medical marijuana to treat these conditions,” Levine said in a statement about the expansion. “For both conditions, 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.”
Levine says her decision was based on the recommendation of the state’s Medical Marijuana Advisory Board and her own review of medical research literature.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, has proven particularly promising as an anti-anxiety treatment. Brazilian researchers in a small study found that patients with generalized social anxiety reported a significant decrease in anxiety after taking CBD, and brain scans showed cerebral blood-flow patterns consistent with an anti-anxiety effect. In another study, researchers found that patients suffering from social anxiety disorder reported less anxiety after taking CBD—reports backed up by objective indicators such as heart rate and blood pressure.
Nearly 111,000 Pennsylvanians have been certified for participation in the state’s medical marijuana program.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.