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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program has just taken a giant step forward.

“This has been a long time coming for so many Pennsylvanians suffering from serious medical conditions,” said Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania’s Surgeon General and Acting Secretary of the Department of Health.

Patients and caregivers in this Commonwealth who want medical marijuana can now register on the state’s just-opened “Medical Marijuana Patient and Caregiver Registry.”

State officials are promising medical marijuana is almost a reality in this state.

“I have an important message for both patients and caregivers. We remain on track to deliver medical marijuana to patients in just the next six months. You have my commitment. It’s going to happen,” promises John Collins, director of Pennsylvania’s Office of Medical Marijuana.

That’s great news to Jennifer Salamon whose 11-year old son, Roman, is non-verbal with autism.

“He has a lot of anxiety, and we’ve noticed that it has helped a lot to calm him, it helps with his sleep, and it helps him focus,” Salamon told KDKA’s Jon Delano on Wednesday.

KDKA’s Jon Delano Reports —

Salamon has had to get medical marijuana for her son from Colorado, but now Pennsylvania has just launched its Registry with a promise to deliver medication to patients in the next six months.

“We will register my son as a patient. I will register as his caregiver, and then we will find a physician that is currently on the list on the Health Department’s website,” she says.

Registering your desire for medical marijuana is just the first step.

You also will need to purchase a $50 medical marijuana card from the state, and then get a recommendation for medical marijuana from a doctor certified by the state.

“You would have to find one of the doctors who has also completed the courses online and has also registered with the state and has been approved,” says Salamon.

So far, only 109 physicians have been approved statewide to recommend marijuana to patients, including 20 in this region.

But many more are expected to be added shortly.

They are essential because only certified doctors can give you a letter recommending medical marijuana.

After that, says Salamon, “Take that letter from the doctor and your ID card and go to a dispensary and purchase whatever you need for your child or yourself.”

Besides autism, there are 16 other medical conditions that might qualify you for medical marijuana, like cancer, Parkinson’s, epilepsy, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

But one important warning.

Medical marijuana is not covered by insurance, and as Salamon found, it can be expensive.

“What we are paying is about $150 a month. I’ve been told it can be up to $200 a month, depending on what you are buying,” she said.

For more information on the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program registry, visit the state’s website at this link.