Pennsylvania at forefront of medical marijuana research with new program

DERRY TOWNSHIP, DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. - Penn State College of Medicine is one of three colleges in the state granted approval to begin medical marijuana research with a grower/processor. The state announced the approval of these partnerships Thursday.

"The commonwealth is way ahead of the curve on this," said Kent Vrana,  Penn State College of Medicine Department of Pharmacology Chair. "In terms of promoting quality research on the potential efficacy of medical marijuana."

This comes more than one year after medical marijuana became available to treat 21 serious medical conditions.

"The problem is all of this promise hasn't been proven scientifically," said Vrana.

Penn State College of Medicine will work with Pennsylvania Options for Wellness for research. PA Options will grow and process the marijuana plant, which will be used to look into what forms of medical marijuana are best, and most effective for certain diseases.

"So this program in Pennsylvania will be able to fill that gap," said Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania Department of Health. "And be able to produce very needed medical research about the value of this medicine for patients who are seriously ill."

Typically colleges would look to grants to do this type of research, but because the drug is still illegal at the federal level their resources are limited. So, having the state launch this kind of program has some experts excited about what's to come.

"We really feel that Pennsylvania will become the leader of research on medical marijuana in the country," said Dr. Levin.

The research is not being funded by the state. PA Options will be funding the research conducted by Penn State College of Medicine.

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