Anxiety and Tourette’s syndrome have been added to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana patients in Pennsylvania.

State health secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said the new conditions will be effective from June 20. “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,” she added.

She insisted that marijuana should not be a primary form of treatment that replaces traditional therapies used to treat anxiety and Tourette’s. But she has accepted that cannabis can be used in conjunction with other treatment methods to bring relief to patients.

Levine advised Pennsylvanians that medicinal cannabis with low THC and high CBD content is the most effective for managing anxiety disorders. She was also careful to remind pregnant women not to use cannabis, and warned all citizens to consult with their healthcare provider before deciding if marijuana would be beneficial for them.

Gov. Tom Wolf signed the state’s medical cannabis program into law in April 2016, and since then 165,000 patients have signed up. That number should receive a considerable boost now that the list of qualifying conditions has been extended.

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

More than 1,600 physicians have signed up to the state’s medical marijuana program, and 3.7 million products have been sold. It has also issued 50 dispensary permits and 25 grower permits, of which 18 are now operational.

Experts from eight universities gathered at the Pennsylvania Department of Health this week for a research summit designed to map out the future of medical cannabis within the state.

Interested patients can apply for a medical marijuana card with the Department and obtain a recommendation from a registered doctor, who must have completed a four-hour, state-run course on medical cannabis. The list of qualifying conditions in Pennsylvania also includes autism, cancer, Crohn’s disease, nerve damage, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, opioid use disorder, Parkinson’s disease, PTSD, chronic pain, and various others.

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