Pennsylvania Officials Warn About Federal Marijuana Policy That Could Jeopardize Health Funding

MJ moment

Pennsylvania officials recently issued a memo stating that the federal government is withholding grant money for certain health programs that allow medical marijuana use among participants—but there is an exception. In the bulletin posted this month, the state Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs said the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) “has been including the following special conditions in federal funding awards.” Those conditions stipulate that grant funds “may not be used, directly or indirectly, to purchase, prescribe, or provide marijuana or treatment using marijuana.” This decision, which also impacts grant funding for education programs, prompted a notice last year from Maine’s Education Department, which warned grant recipients about SAMHSA’s updated cannabis policy. That said, a 2020 follow-up from the federal agency that was included in the new Pennsylvania notice adds some nuance to the policy. SAMHSA clarifies that recipients would only be disqualified from the grants if the people participating in their program are using marijuana for mental health or substance misuse treatment. Further, it said that organizations would be able to continue receiving funding if patients use cannabis for those purposes so long as the clinician involved in their treatment documents the usage and the patient “is willing to work with the practitioner to understand the risks of the marijuana use and be willing to work toward using evidence-based alternatives to treat their mental/substance use disorder.” But as far as advocates are concerned, the overall policy is convoluted, potentially preventing access to funding that could benefit whole communities simply because a given patient might be using cannabis in compliance with state laws. What’s more, the effect of the ban could be arbitrary. What if, for example, a patient claimed that they were using medical marijuana to treat a pain condition when they could simultaneously…

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Source : Pennsylvania Officials Warn About Federal Marijuana Policy That Could Jeopardize Health Funding

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