How Many People Use Cannabis For Addiction? The Wolf Administration Won’t Say


In 2018, the Wolf administration endorsed hashish as a remedy for opioid use dysfunction, regardless of an absence of analysis and considerations from consultants that it may give sufferers false hope — or actively hurt them. A recent Spotlight PA story set out to measure the impact of that decision, three years later.

The implications are vital in a state with one of many highest drug overdose demise charges within the nation. Pennsylvania offers physicians broad discretion to suggest hashish to sufferers with opioid use dysfunction if standard therapies are ineffective or aren’t advisable, or if they’re utilizing hashish to complement standard therapies.

The early reporting included what appeared like a easy request to the Division of Well being: How most of the state’s roughly 550,000 registered hashish sufferers had been authorised to make use of it to deal with their opioid use dysfunction?

However the company’s press workplace refused to offer Highlight PA the combination quantity, saying in an e-mail that below the state’s medical marijuana legislation, “We can’t share specifics relating to affected person use.” The division additionally denied a request for the data made below the state’s Proper-to-Know Legislation.

The rejections had been shocking, because the state has made such info publicly obtainable previously.

In August 2019, the director of the division’s Workplace of Medical Marijuana, John J. Collins, informed members of the state’s Medical Marijuana Advisory Board that about 3,000 sufferers had been licensed due to nervousness within the month after the state added it as a qualifying condition.

When requested in regards to the obvious discrepancy, division spokesperson Maggi Barton didn’t clarify or justify why the medical marijuana legislation allowed Collins to launch that info, however the division couldn’t launch combination information for opioid use dysfunction.

As a substitute, she stated by e-mail, “if a board member requests this info for use to tell a call it’s prudent for the director to reply appropriately when requested by a board member.”

Assembly minutes supplied by the division present board member Luke Shultz, a affected person advocate from Berks County, requested Collins if the division noticed a rise within the variety of registered sufferers after approving nervousness as a situation. Shultz’s query wasn’t tied to a selected vote earlier than the board, and he didn’t ask for a selected variety of sufferers registered for nervousness.

Shultz additionally certified the query by saying he wasn’t certain if Collins may reply, however Collins nonetheless supplied a selected quantity.

There are different examples. In a February 2020 presentation made at a Medical Marijuana Advisory Board assembly, one of many slides stated 3% of sufferers listed opioid use dysfunction as their main medical situation, making it the sixth hottest selection.

And state officers have routinely supplied the whole variety of sufferers in this system, together with in an April 2021 information launch celebrating the five-year anniversary. There have been near 553,000 patients and caregivers registered at the time.

In rejecting Highlight PA’s request, the division’s open information officer, Lisa Keefer, wrote that each one “info obtained by the division regarding sufferers, caregivers, and different candidates shall be confidential and never topic to public disclosure.”

After Highlight PA appealed the denial, attorneys for the division stated an worker may face a third-degree misdemeanor cost for “illegal disclosure of this info.”

The division additionally cited confidentiality considerations when it rejected a request from CNHI reporter John Finnerty for information detailing the variety of medical marijuana sufferers in every of the state’s 67 counties.

Finnerty appealed, and the state’s Office of Open Records on July 15 ruled against the department.

“Discovering the requested aggregated information to be confidential would result in an absurd consequence,” the workplace’s chief counsel, Kyle Applegate, wrote within the resolution. “Beneath such a broad studying of confidentiality, info similar to the whole variety of Pennsylvanians utilizing the medical marijuana program can be confidential and disclosure of that determine may end in legal sanctions. The OOR can’t conclude that this was the Common Meeting’s intent.”

Highlight PA expects a call on its enchantment in September.

90.5 WESA companions with Highlight PA, a collaborative, reader-funded newsroom producing accountability journalism for all of Pennsylvania. Extra at


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