The Pennsylvania Health Department has approved two new health conditions for the medical marijuana program. Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine announced the new additions Thursday afternoon. They include Anxiety Disorders and Tourette’s Syndrome.

“I have conducted a very careful review of the literature available at these conditions, and I have decided I will approve this recommendation no later than July 20th,” Dr. Levine says.

This will bring the number of approved conditions under Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program to 23. Dr. Levine was careful to mention, though, that those suffering from anxiety disorders should still seek counseling and therapy, even if they start using medical marijuana. As far as both of these conditions go, Dr. Levine says medical marijuana should not be the first or only treatment.

“For both conditions, anxiety disorders and Tourette’s Syndrome, the research does not support using medical marijuana as a first line medication for these conditions. It does support using medical marijuana to that these conditions in conjunction with other treatments, or if the other treatments are unsuccessful.

Dr. Levine also added using caution when it comes to medical marijuana and anxiety. She cited research, saying marijuana with a high THC level can actually make anxiety symptoms worse. Research shows using marijuana with low THC and high CBD content for a short period of time will produce the best outcome. Dr. Levine also noted medical marijuana should not be used by children or young teens with anxiety disorders, or by pregnant women.

“Medical marijuana is not recommended to treat children or adolescents with anxiety disorders, as their brains are still developing. Medical marijuana should not be used by pregnant women, really with any of the 23 approved conditions, because the impacts of marijuana on the fetus are not yet known,” explains Dr. Levine.

The groups represented at a research summit held Thursday afternoon will be taking a close look at the effects medical marijuana may have on those disorders. There are eight academic research centers in total across the state, but three of them have certified clinical registrants they’ll be working on research with.

Drexel University, Thomas Jefferson University, and Penn State University are the three approved research centers with clinical registrants. Each of those universities will focus on different facets of medical marijuana effects. The research will range from patient health outcomes, to what strain of marijuana is most effective, and what dosing is most effective on the list of approved conditions.

“We have an opportunity here to really address the needs of the people of Pennsylvania, and provide the best possible care,” says Dr. Kent Vrata of Penn State University.

In terms of the other 5 academic research centers, Dr. Levine says they will have another round of approving clinical registrants to work with them at the end of the summer.