Three Pa. med schools tapped for medical marijuana research programs

The number of medical marijuana patients has more than doubled in the last year. (Brennan Linsley/AP Photo)

The number of medical marijuana patients has more than doubled in the last year. (Brennan Linsley/AP Photo)

Three clinical research centers have been chosen to investigate the potential benefits and risks of using medical marijuana to treat health conditions.

In Philadelphia, Drexel University College of Medicine will partner with Agronomed Biologics LLC. and Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University will partner with MLH Explorations LLC. as part of the research effort.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health approved a partnership between the Hershey-based Penn State College of Medicine and a medical marijuana producer from Harrisburg called PA Options for Wellness. Researchers will focus on medical marijuana patients with chronic pain or cancer, said Kent Vrana, Penn State College of Medicine’s Pharmacology department chair.

“We know there are reasons to believe marijuana may have beneficial effects,” Vrana said. “The trouble is, there hasn’t been high-quality clinical outcomes research to prove that.”

PA Options for Wellness will provide the bulk of the funding for the 10-year project, Penn State College of Medicine said in a news release.

The Health Department says it plans to approve five more partnerships between marijuana growers and research centers this summer.

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