Letter from the Publisher, January 2018

We are living in a historic moment for natural health and wellness in the United States. More than half the country—29 states—have legalized medical marijuana. Pennsylvania did so in April of 2017. Despite decades of stigmatization and criminalization, polls show that 71 percent of Americans support full legalization, and nearly 90 percent favor marijuana for medicinal use.

The cannabis plant has demonstrated powerful healing effects on the quality of life for thousands of suffering men, women and children. Medical marijuana (MMJ) has been shown to be an effective treatment modality for PTSD, epilepsy, autism, chronic pain, nausea, insomnia, anxiety, Crohn’s disease, arthritis, neuropathy, asthma, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other conditions. Continue reading

The 101 on Act 16: MMJ PA Basics

The Pennsylvania Department of Health passed Act 16, signing the state’s Medical Marijuana Program into law on April 17, 2016. The program is still in the rollout phase—patients began receiving their certifications a few months ago, on November 1, and dispensaries are scheduled to be open early this year.

Here’s what you need to know about the subject: Continue reading

The Green Remedy Advocacy Center and Clinic: Bridging the Gap

by Karen G. Meshkov

The rollout of PA’s medical cannabis program has not been without its hiccups: it’s taken longer than anticipated to go into effect; the Department of Health has been criticized for lacking the budget to do a proper marketing and education campaign; the ratio of doctors registered in the program to patients registered for care is woefully lopsided. The concern is that despite the landmark ruling of Act 16, people that suffer from the 17 “serious medical conditions” included in the initiative will also suffer from an inability to access services.

Enter The Green Remedy, a medical marijuana advocacy center and clinic on the outskirts of Northwest Philadelphia whose efforts are all about easing suffering. The clinic, which opened its doors in October, helps people that want to get into the medical cannabis program connect with a certified doctor so they can get their card and access the dispensaries. “The program was officially in place as of November 1,” says the company’s founder, Chanel Rousseau, her eyes sparkling. Continue reading

PA Vets Push for MMJ Access, Relief

by Carrie Jackson & Karen G. Meshkov

George Armstrong, from Western Chester County, is at the forefront of a movement to allow veterans in Pennsylvania legal access to medical marijuana, or MMJ. With more than 800,000 veterans, Pennsylvania hosts a large community of people that could benefit from treatment of combat-related conditions, such as chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder and mental illness. Armstrong is an outspoken advocate for the PA Vets for Cannabis Program, with the aim of convincing the federal government to legalize marijuana. Continue reading

Mind of a Chemist, Heart of a Healer: Local Medical Cannabis Pioneer Joe DaCrema

With cannabis legalization taking root across the U.S., and Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program rolling out in 2018, there is no shortage of people looking to be a part of the “green rush”. For Philly-area native and owner of DaCrema Botanicals, Joe DaCrema, however, recognizing the medicinal potential of cannabis is nothing new—much like the path to legalization in this country, his journey has been decades in the making.

DaCrema’s introduction to medicinal cannabis came in 1988, during his sister’s struggle with cancer. Like many, she became a believer in the plant’s power from personal experience. “She tried all the medications the doctors prescribed her; she said that marijuana was the only thing that took away her pain,” says DaCrema. He was not as surprised as he might have been, then, to discover that marijuana offered relief from his own issues with an asthmatic condition. Continue reading

Pennsylvania Medical Cannabis Program

Medical marijuana background with blank paper

by Tom Santanna

Over the last year, the Pennsylvania Department of Health has implemented the legislative Act 16 of 2016, allowing for a medical cannabis program, without any major delays. Regulations have been drafted and published, and the first round of licenses for growing, processing and distributing medical cannabis have been awarded.

Seventeen qualifying conditions allow patients to receive medical cannabis therapy, including HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal or neurological indication of spasticity, inflammatory bowel, Huntington’s disease, Crohn’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, intractable seizures, glaucoma, autism, sickle cell anemia, neuropathy and pain, defined in the statute as “severe chronic or intractable pain of neuropathic origin or severe chronic or intractable pain in which conventional therapeutic intervention and opiate therapy is contraindicated or ineffective. Continue reading