The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine is one of eight Pennsylvania universities now approved to conduct clinical research for the state’s medical marijuana program.
Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday announced the winners, five of which are in the Philadelphia area. The remaining two are Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey and Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine in Erie.
As “certified academic clinical research centers,” the Pitt School of Medicine and the other seven centers will study the safety and efficacy of medical marijuana for treating various illnesses.
Such research has been limited to date because federal law regards marijuana illegal in all of its forms.
“The research component of Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program sets it apart from the rest of the nation,” Gov. Wolf said in a release.
“Today, medical research is so limited by the federal government that only a few doctors can even have access to medical marijuana. Pennsylvania’s premiere medical schools will be able to help shape the future of treatment for patients who are in desperate need not just here, but across the country.”
Earlier this year, Pennsylvania’s program began providing cannabis products to patients certified to have one of 17 medical conditions, such as seizure disorder or glaucoma.
Last month, Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine expanded the list to 21 medical conditions and approved the sale of cannabis flower to qualifying patients. Pennsylvania is also the first state to allow access to medical marijuana as treatment for opioid addiction when traditional approaches have failed.
Those changes take effect Thursday.
State officials say to date more than 16,000 patients have received their identification cards and received medical marijuana at a dispensary after being certified by one of the more than 600 physicians certified by the state.