Medical marijuana patients in Pennsylvania will participate in a national study already underway at the University of Michigan. Yesterday, a collaborative group of cannabis dispensaries in Pennsylvania announced that it intends to collect data on chronic pain from patients and give it to the University of Michigan for in-depth research. If you do not want to participate, then you will need to opt out.
One of the lead scientists on the Michigan pain study, Sue Sisley, is a respected psychiatrist from Arizona with experience analyzing DEA-approved cannabis studies at the Scottsdale Research Institute. Those studies, in particular, focus on treating post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans. According to Sisley, the pain study already has approximately 600 patients enlisted for it fromboth Michigan and Nevada.
Any patient using marijuana to treat chronic pain will receive a request to complete a confidential survey online. They will do so using an iPad at any of the dispensaries participating. If enough patients sign up for the Michigan pain study, Sisley says publishable results will be possible with at least 3,000 participants, then it could render moot any state-sanctioned research program in Pennsylvania.
In fact, it could kill any possibility of corrupt collusion between pot companies and health care providers in Pennsylvania. It would prove that detailed research of marijuana could occur easily without the need to grant canna businesses special privileges that enable them to enter into exclusive study agreements with state health care programs.
The revelation of the Michigan pain study follows hot on the heels of a decision made this week at a Commonwealth Court that could potentially collapse Pennsylvania’s current research laws on its own. Cultivators and retailers currently in the state’s program, many now participating in Michigan’s pain study, filed a lawsuit back in March claiming unconstitutional, unlawful research regulations.
Ruling in favor of the complaint on Tuesday, presiding Judge Patricia A. McCullough issued an injunction, if just temporary, that prevents the Department of Health from moving ahead with its plans. In response, a statement made by a spokesperson for the Department of Health read that it “will continue to pursue our nation-leading research component and we are evaluating our legal options.”
According to a statute of Pennsylvania, currently eight of its health care systems, called Academic Clinical Research Centers, or ACRCs, can join with cannabis companies, called Clinical Registrants, or CRs, to conduct detailed research. The health department already approved five institutions to become ACRCs in Philadelphia just this month.
The named ACRCs are the University of Pennsylvania, Jefferson Health, Drexel University, Temple University, and the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. In turn, they have already joined forces with their CR partners, despite the state still needing to approve these arrangements. However, there is great discontent about it.f
Existing cultivators and companies claim that, by giving these institutions the authority to choose their own CR partners, and without a rigorous process of applications, the state is “unlawfully” giving the schools permitting duties actually delegated to the Department of Health. The complaint alleged an unfair pay-to-play advantage for these chosen cannabis companies.