Medical marijuana patient evaluation center opens in Pittsburgh |

Medical marijuana patient evaluation center opens in Pittsburgh

Ben Schmitt
Guy Wathen | Trib Total Media
Nina Mitchell (left), of Beechview attends a rally in support of medical marijuana with her granddaughter Antania Hawkins, 10, on the capitol steps in Harrisburg on Monday, June 1, 2015. The rally was conducted in support of Senate Bill 3 which passed the Senate and has stalled in the House of Representatives Health Committee. Hawkins suffers from Dravet syndrome and can sometimes have over 1,000 seizures a day as a result. Medicine derived from cannabis has been shown to be a treatment for Dravet.

A national medical marijuana network opened an office in Pittsburgh this week to help eligible patients with evaluations and certifications for cannabis treatment.

Compassionate Certification Centers announced Friday its office opened on Stanwix Street in Gateway Center.

Dr. Bryan Doner and Dr. Keyur Patel of Compassionate Certification Centers will oversee the office to provide “medical cannabis evaluations, guidance through the certification process and continued treatment care for eligible patients who have been diagnosed with one of 17 state qualifying conditions.”

“We want to set a new benchmark in medical cannabis care. Our physicians and health care providers come from a variety of sub-specialties and are certified by their respective state,” Doner said in a news release. “We are more than just certification centers, and we are proud to offer patients ongoing care and support based on their individual needs.”

Compassionate Certification Centers plans to open 25 patient centers throughout Pennsylvania. Its officials said that about 200,000 state residents are able to qualify for medical marijuana cards. By Friday, the new Pittsburgh office had already booked 93 patients. No referral is necessary, officials said.

Under state law, patients can apply for a state-issued medical marijuana card if a doctor certifies they have one of 17 qualified medical conditions, including epilepsy, cancer, multiple sclerosis and seizure disorders.

Qualified patients with a doctor’s recommendation must register with the state Department of Health. After that,the patient will receive a Pennsylvania medical marijuana identification card, allowing the purchase of medical marijuana from an authorized state-licensed medical marijuana dispensary.

The Health Department is regulating the program, which forbids smoking marijuana in dry leaf form. Dispensaries are allowed to sell equipment, such as vaping devices for liquid forms, to administer medical marijuana.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed a medical marijuana bill into law in April 2016 and dispensaries and growers are currently being implemented.

Medical marijuana in Pennsylvania will be available in pills, oils, tinctures and ointments.

A job fair for a state-approved marijuana grower and processor, PurePenn, in McKeesport drew hundreds of applicants in July.

In April, Compassionate Certification Centers organized a World Medical Cannabis Conference & Expo at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. The second annual event will take place April 12-14, 2018, at the same location.

Ben Schmitt is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7991, [email protected] or via Twitter at @Bencschmitt.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.