The Pennsylvania Department of Health approved five Delaware County practitioners Thursday to begin prescribing medical marijuana to patients once state-licensed dispensaries go live in 2018.

Since the application process opened Nov. 1, more than 6,000 patients have registered to participate in the program, and 100 physicians have been approved around the state.

“These remarkable numbers are a clear confirmation of the need for medical marijuana to ease the pain and suffering of thousands of Pennsylvanians,” Gov. Tom Wolf said in a statement. “The Department of Health is working diligently and remains on track for the successful delivery of medical marijuana in 2018.”

In our region, 18 physicians in Delaware, Chester and Montgomery counties will be able to prescribe cannabis extracts for autism, cancer, Crohn’s Disease, neuropathies, HIV/AIDS, seizures, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder and severe chronic pain.

Benjamin Jacobs, M.D., of Alliance Cancer Specialists in Media, specializes in hematology and oncology; Jeffrey Pinsk, M.D., of Newtown Square, specializes in family medicine and internal medicine; Joseph Richards, D.O., Rehab Associates via Main Line Health in Haverford, specializes in pain management and rehabilitation; Olusola Obayomi-Davies, M.D. of Crozer-Keystone Health System, specializes in radiation oncology; and William Ware, M.D., of Upper Chichester, member of the Crozer-Keystone Health System, of Upper Chichester, specializes in primary care and internal medicine.

Chester County have five practitioners specializing in anesthesiology, pain management, neurology and Karen Banner, M.D., specializes in psychiatry, of who sufferers of PTSD would seek alternative treatment in the area.

Treatment via medical marijuana will begin “sometime next year,” said Dr. Rachel Levine, Acting Pennsylvania Secretary of Health and Physician General for the state.

“Physicians play a critical role in providing patients with access to this program,” Levine said. “We encourage physicians considering this as a treatment option for their patients to register and take the required continuing education courses. For physicians who want to learn more, our continuing education providers have resources available so that you can see if medical marijuana is a treatment option for their patients.”

When the program begins, doctors who intent to offer patient certifications will need to register with the health department. Patients will need up-to-date state-issued identification and the state ID and current address must match. Additionally, as a patient, individuals can designate up to two caregivers to assist in purchasing medical marijuana. Those designated caregivers are asked to register with the state and to complete necessary background checks.

Individuals who qualify and have received a doctor’s referral will be able to go to a local dispensary — Delaware County will have two locations for access — and purchase products created at the state’s 12 grow and processing locations.

Grassroots Cannabis, will set up shop at 130 S. State Road, Upper Darby, and Keystone Dispensaries will open at 622 Industrial Park Drive B in Yeadon. Grassroots Cannabis is operated by AES Compassionate Care LLC, and Keystone Dispensaries by Chamounix Ventures LLC.

Interested patients can follow this link – https://www.pa.gov/guides/pennsylvania-medical-marijuana-program/ – for additional information.

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