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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The phone has been ringing off the hook at some area doctors’ offices. The Pennsylvania Department of Health released the list of physicians approved to prescribe medical marijuana.

Dr. Bryan Doner is an Emergency Room physician who also specializes in wound care treatment and research.

“Years ago, I started to examine some of the research and the science behind it. Then, as a practicing ER physician, I started to have some interactions with some of my patients who had gone outside of the normal healthcare and they had some great results,” said Dr. Doner, who is also the CEO of Compassionate Certification Centers.

For him, participating in the state’s medical marijuana program was a must.

“This was a patient-initiated movement. I really wanted to be part of how things are changing in our health care system and support our patients,” said Dr. Doner.

Since the publication of the list of prescribing physicians, Compassionate Certification Centers has seen a major spike in calls and web traffic.

“I can tell you, our organization, right now, we have a waiting list of almost 2,000 patients,” said Dr. Doner.

Dr. Doner has high hopes for patient results.

“Really, what my hope is that medical marijuana will offer an alternative plan for these patients where maybe things have failed in the past,” said Dr. Doner.

He also believes it will help combat the opioid epidemic.

“I think medical marijuana offers us a potential that we really haven’t had yet, not only to potentially treat symptoms of opiate withdrawal, but also as an alternative to chronic pain management,” said Dr. Doner.

Under state law, a patient must have one of 17 qualified medical conditions. Cancer, PTSD and autism are all included. Smoking dry leaf marijuana is not allowed.

“There really is a science behind this. There are dosing parameters. There are different routes of administration. There are different frequencies when we can give patients these medications,” said Dr. Doner.

Compassionate Certification Centers will begin patient evaluations on Dec. 8, 2017.

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