Three thousand anxiety sufferers have joined Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program since it was added as a qualifying condition on July 20.

It is estimated that 18% of Americans will experience an anxiety disorder in any given year. There are 13 million people living in Pennsylvania, which leaves an addressable market of potentially more than 2 million.

State health secretary Dr. Rachel Levine advised patients that medicinal cannabis with low THC and high CBD content is most effective for managing anxiety disorders when she added it to the list of qualifying conditions last month.

John Collins, director of the Office of Medical Marijuana told a Medical Marijuana Advisory Board meeting this week that 212 people were certified for medical marijuana because of anxiety. He said that number has grown by around 1,000 patients per week since then, bringing the total to 3,000 in a short space of time.

Collins added that there are now 180,000 patients and 20,000 caregivers registered with the state’s program. Around 121,000 of them are actively purchasing cannabis, which equates to roughly $200 million in retail sales.

There are more than 1,600 physicians authorized to prescribe medicinal cannabis in Pennsylvania, and the patient count is rising all the time.

This week a Lehigh County judge ruled that state police hoping to search a car after smelling marijuana are not allowed to proceed if a passenger produces a medical marijuana card. Judge Maria Dantos ruled that the smell of cannabis is no longer necessarily indicative of a crime in Pennsylvania, so it is illogical, impractical and unreasonable for officers to suspect illegal activity.

She was examining the case of Timothy Barr, who was being driven by his wife when officers said they smelled marijuana and had probable cause to search the vehicle. He showed a medical marijuana card, but they searched the car anyway and found a loaded handgun, which he was barred from possessing due to a prior conviction.

Barr will not be convicted of a crime unless the District Attorney’s office decides to appeal the ruling.

One lawyer claims that officers in Pennsylvania use smell “far too often” as a means of invading citizens’ privacy, and this landmark ruling could mark the end of that trend.

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