The 17 Conditions of the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program

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The Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program will provide access to medical marijuana for patients with a serious medical condition through a safe and effective method of delivery that balances patient need for access to the latest treatments with patient care and safety. Here is a deeper look at those 17 serious medical conditions:


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis AKA ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease is a degenerative neurological disorder causing muscle weakness, wasting and paralysis of the limbs. Cannabis also has properties applicable to symptom management of ALS. Based on the currently available scientific data, cannabis may significantly slow the progression of ALS, prolong life expectancy in addition to relieving many of the disease’s devastating symptoms



Autism is one of the fastest growing developmental disorders, affecting 1 in 68 children in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its symptoms include impaired communication and social skills, along with compulsive and repetitive behaviors. Researchers have found a potential link between autism and cannabinoid receptors, particularly cannabinoid 2 receptors (CB2), within the endocannabinoid system. These CB2 receptors are the same ones that the cannabinoids found in cannabis act upon. These findings regarding the CB2 receptors support the theory that autism could be caused by a disruption of the brain’s ability to send clear signals and in turn raises the possibility that using cannabinoids found in cannabis can restore communication to allow for proper cell function and communication.



Cannabis and cannabinoids may have benefits in treating the symptoms of cancer and the side effects of cancer therapies. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive counterpart to CBD, has been shown to reduce tumor growth as well as been shown to have an effect on the rate of metastasis, including for non-small cell lung cancer − the leading cause of cancer deaths globally. 


Crohn’s Disease

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 3 million people are living with a form of irritable bowel disease (IBD), which includes Crohn’s and Colitis. IBD patients have been shown to have more cannabinoid receptors in the tissue of the colon than people without IBD, which means that people affected by Crohn's Disease and Colitis are likely to respond to the anti-inflammatory properties of medical marijuana. According to a statement issued by The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, compounds found in the marijuana plant closely mimic endocannabinoids and have been shown to play an important part in decreasing gastrointestinal inflammation.


Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries can have permanent, devastating effects on one's life and well-being. Currently, there is no way to reverse damage done to the spinal cord so the focus of treatment is on preventing further injury. For spinal cord injury patients experiencing spasms, cannabis may offer relief. Along with pain, muscle spasm is the most common reason that medical cannabis is recommended and prescribed by medical professionals.  In addition, cannabis has long been determined as effective for addressing neuropathic pain.



Living with epilepsy is a serious concern for 3.4 million adults and children in the United States. Epilepsy is a disorder of the brain causing seizures. This may be caused by a variety of conditions including but not limited to brain tumors, head injuries, central nervous system infections and strokes. There is evidence that cannabis, particularly CBD, the non-psychoactive compound in cannabis, can be helpful in controlling seizures, especially for difficult to control conditions like Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) in children and adults and Dravet syndrome in children.



Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damage the eye’s optic nerve and can result in vision loss and blindness. Dating back to the 1970s, studies have shown that cannabinoids can alleviate glaucoma-related symptoms because they lower the intraocular pressure (IOP) and have neuroprotective actions.



According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, more than 1.2 million people in the United States are living with the HIV infection and nearly 1 in 8 are unaware that they are infected.  There is currently no effective cure for HIV, so once its acquired, the focus of treatment is on controlling the virus and preventing it from progressing to AIDS. While the side effects of HIV and AIDS treatments can impinge on one’s life quality, studies have shown that medical marijuana can help make the adverse effects more manageable. HIV positive patients consuming medical marijuana have reported significant improvements in appetite, muscle pain levels, nausea, anxiety, depression, and skin tingling. Studies have found that daily and chronic neuropathic pain related to HIV can be significantly lowered by regular cannabis consumption. Medical marijuana also boosts appetite and daily functioning, helping to combat weight loss and muscle breakdown.


Huntington’s Disease

Huntington’s disease is an inherited progressive degenerative disease that causes nerve cells in the basal ganglia of the brain to waste away. Research has shown that cannabis helps slow the progression of Huntington’s disease through its interaction with the endocannabinoid system. Research has also shown that through the activation of cannabinoid 2 receptors (CB2), the inflammation and toxicity of microglial cells is reduced, which in turn slows the neurodegeneration caused by Huntington’s disease. Through the activation of cannabinoid 1 receptors (CB1), cannabinoids have shown to effectively alleviate specific motor symptoms like tremors and movement disorders and reduce the process in which neurons are damaged and killed to slow the progression of the disease.



Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic condition that causes extreme gastrointestinal distress. Medical marijuana can help someone living with IBS manage pain, nausea, and other frustrating symptoms.


Intractable Seizures

Intractable epilepsy is a seizure disorder in which a patient's seizures fail to come under control with treatment. CBD medicines are drawing great interest for children with severe, intractable epilepsy.

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis is a neurodegenerative autoimmune disease that affects the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerve. The condition affects millions of people worldwide, but unfortunately there is no cure. Compounds in cannabis are potent antioxidants, which give them neuroprotective properties.



Neuropathy is the damage to the sensory, motor or autonomic nerves that occurs from an underlying cause. Studies have shown cannabis is effective at significantly reducing neuropathic pain.


Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive, permanent condition that affects the nervous system leading to slowed cognition, tremors, posture changes and speech difficulties. Several cannabinoid trials have reported benefit on Parkinson's motor and non-motor symptoms including pain, sleep dysfunction, rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder and psychosis.



PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is an anxiety condition caused by disturbing episodes, such as military combat or sexual assault. Researchers found that people with PTSD had lower levels of anandamide, an endogenous cannabinoid compound, compared to those who did not show signs of PTSD. By replenishing these missing endocannabinoids with those found in cannabis, researchers think marijuana pharmaceuticals might bring PTSD patients relief from their memories.


Chronic Pain

As many as one in five Americans lives with chronic pain. Chronic pain interferes with daily activities and may cause mental and emotional disturbances such as depression, anxiety anrdmood disturbances. Studies have shown that medical marijuana can assist patients suffering from certain serious medical conditions by alleviating pain and improving their quality of life. In fact, The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) suggests that medical marijuana products may have a role in reducing the use of opioids needed to control pain.


Sickle Cell Anemia

Sickle cell disease refers to a group of hereditary disorders affecting the red blood cells. Like many conditions, treatment for sickle cell anemia focuses on controlling symptoms. Cannabinoids are increasingly being considered for the management of various painful conditions, and could be considered as an option for treating acute pain in sickle cell disease (SCD).


As always, please consult with your physician to see if medical marijuana is a treatment option for you. 


Alayna Ryan2 Comments