Penn State Lehigh Valley students to embark on cross-cultural project through EDGE program

Ryan Adamson and Lexi Spear are two of the Penn State Lehigh Valley students participating in the Experiential Digital Global Exchange program. PHOTO/SUBMITTED –

Twelve Penn State Lehigh Valley students under the direction of Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering Tracey Carbonetto will spend the spring semester participating in a cross-cultural project facilitated through Penn State University’s Experiential Digital Global Exchange (EDGE).  

Beginning the week of Feb. 14, Carbonetto and the students will collaborate via Zoom with students and faculty from Ah-Najah National University in Palestine and Institute of Science, Engineering, and Technology (ISET) at Beja in Tunisia.  

The groups will work with each other under the guidance of United Nations-trained faculty in cross-cultural communication with the goal of completing projects aligned with the U.N. Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs).  

The participating PSU-LV students are Ryan Adamson, Aemen Ali, Fouad Awwad, Ethan Davies, Tobey Field, Harsh Sameer Desai, Pallari Satish Mujumdar, Surya Sayee Subramanian, Lexi Spear, Vaishnavi Ajila, and Vedat Veziroglu.  

They’ll meet with their international counterparts on Zoom during the early morning and midday hours to accommodate the time difference and will be placed in groups of five or six to discuss their interests and skills.  

Specifically, the students will utilize their skills in computer programming, information science and technology, engineering analysis, and computer-aided drawing to design a product or process that falls under the social entrepreneurship umbrella and addresses issues within the areas of climate change, health care, and education.   

“One example I can give would be smart traffic signals that would use camera and GPS imagery to control the flow of traffic through urban areas,” Carbonetto said. “The goal would be to reduce the total idle time of cars waiting for traffic signals to change. This would require some pretty sophisticated coding, durable camera systems, urban planning, etc.” 

With any luck, Carbonetto said, the students will come to understand the role of culture within these types of skills and competencies, and how differing cultural perspectives can aid in solving problems here in the United States.  

“The goals set forth by the United Nations require a global effort to reach them. EDGE provides a platform for our students to work together in achieving these goals,” Carbonetto said.  

The projects will culminate in early May with a final presentation to international faculty and global industry representatives.  

For more information on EDGE, visit globaledgeucation.psu.edu 


Penn State Lehigh Valley cuts ribbon on $14.4M expansion

After more than 18 months of construction, Penn State Lehigh Valley cut the ribbon on a $14.4 million campus expansion that includes a full-service cafeteria, enhanced space for student programing and the Charles W. Dent STEM Wing. 

 The Dent wing is dedicated to STEM education and includes faculty offices and classroom space, a prep lab, a lab technician office, equipment room, lounge and a 2,199-square-foot laboratory. The lab will allow the campus to offer organic chemistry courses and give students the opportunity to complete their undergraduate requirements for medical school at the Lehigh Valley campus. 

“I’ve never been more sure that the decision we made to pursue this 20,500-square-foot expansion was the right thing to do for our students and the long-term economic viability of the Lehigh Valley,” Penn State Lehigh Valley Chancellor Tina Q. Richardson said at the ribbon cutting. “Healthcare was already our largest employer – even before COVID created a greater need – and STEM remains the most crucial and sought-after skillsets.  

“Today, thanks to the support of the University, and the tireless efforts of the many people involved in this strategic undertaking, this campus is better equipped to educate in STEM fields at a higher level and in the very personalized setting that differentiates Penn State Lehigh Valley.” 

Citing employer need, Penn State Lehigh adds health sciences business degree

Starting this fall, Penn State Lehigh Valley will offer health services as an option for its bachelor of science in business degree program.

Through the program, students will complete a degree focused on the health sciences arena. Coursework would include such areas as financial decisions in health care organizations, health systems management, principles of managed care and population health.

School officials noted that health care is one of the largest industries in the U.S. and is the largest employer in the Lehigh Valley, so creating the option is serving the needs of Lehigh Valley employers.

“Health services managers and administration workers play a vital role in running healthcare systems, clinical practices and laboratories. Our health services option will prepare students by offering them the opportunity to take an array of pertinent and topical courses such as  healthcare payment, comparative healthcare systems, healthcare policy, as well as strategic planning and project management,” said Maung Min, director of business programs, Penn State Lehigh Valley.

The school has several health-related options for students such as health policy and administration, biobehavioral health and rehabilitation and human services. Min said this degree option enhances the programs that are already in place by offering additional options.

The school’s business degree program also offers an accounting option, a management and marketing option, a financial services option as well as an individualized option for students to tailor their education to their specific interests.


Penn State Lehigh Valley to offer degree in cybersecurity

In response to a growing demand for cybersecurity professionals, Penn State Lehigh Valley in Center Valley is launching a new four-year degree program in the field.

The school said that cybercrimes cost organizations an average of $13 million per year and the number of security breaches has grown by 11 percent over the last year.

A Bachelor of Science degree in cybersecurity analytics and operations (CYAOP) will be offered starting fall 2020.

“A degree in cybersecurity from Penn State Lehigh Valley will provide our students a desired skillset that is in high demand at the professional level. They’ll be able to take advantage of the numerous internship and job opportunities in the Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia areas,” said  Dan Jalosinski, information security and risk analysis analyst at Johnson and Johnson who is a 2020 PSU-LV alumnus with a degree in information sciences and technology.

The program is offered through a University College Statewide Consortium with Penn State Beaver, Brandywine, Greater Allegheny, Lehigh Valley, Schuylkill, Shenango and York. Six focus areas allow CYAOP students to create a custom application sequence for further study.

These focus areas include Application Development, Geopolitics, Law and Policy, Economics, Health Care and Custom Application.

“A degree in cybersecurity prepares students with hands-on technical cyber defense strategies, risk management and data-driven cybersecurity experience,” said Tina Q. Richardson, chancellor of Penn State Lehigh Valley. “Graduates of the program enter a profession with great salaries, flexibility and high levels of job satisfaction.”

Penn State Lehigh Valley begins $14.4M expansion project

Penn State Lehigh Valley has started construction of a $14.4 million expansion project that will include a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) wing, organic chemistry lab, new dining facility and veteran and adult learner lounge. (RENDERING/SUBMITTED) –

Penn State Lehigh Valley has started construction of a $14.4 million expansion project that will include a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) wing, organic chemistry lab, new dining facility and veteran and adult learner lounge.

The 20,500-square-foot-project marks the first major construction initiative at the Upper Saucon Township campus.

At a groundbreaking ceremony at the south entrance to the campus, officials spoke about how the project would meet the needs of students looking for potential careers in STEM fields as well as health care, with the addition of the organic chemistry lab.

“We are confident that this expansion will soon be a reality for our students,” said Tina Richardson, chancellor for Penn State Lehigh Valley.

The three-story addition, targeted to open in January 2021, would go up near the south entrance of the campus, facing Center Valley Parkway.

Officials said the first floor will include a dining facility, with student services spaces on the second floor and a STEM wing on the third floor, including the organic chemistry lab. The STEM wing will support Penn State Lehigh Valley’s current health degree programs and allow the campus to grow the necessary educational pipeline for health professionals and provide more undergraduate research opportunities, officials said.

Richardson noted that with health care the largest employer in the valley, the new addition will provide an opportunity to change the success trajectory of so many students.

Eric Barron, Pennsylvania State University president, said the project promised to bring groundbreaking opportunities for students and faculty at the Lehigh Valley campus. He noted the need for students to have spaces to gather and socialize on campus, which the expansion would offer.

“How do you build a community if you don’t have the space to collaborate and relax?” Barron said. “With this project we are tackling that challenge.”

The university got support from generous donors, he added. Among them are William Spence, PPL chairman and CEO, who was a graduate of Penn State. Spence said Penn State provided him with an excellent education that helped him become who he is.

“It’s about expanding the opportunities right here in our own backyard,” he said.

Former Congressman Charlie Dent also spoke about his time as a Penn State student.

“I didn’t fully appreciate it as an undergraduate,” he said. “It’s extraordinarily important.”

Dent cited Penn State’s commitment to science and engineering education.

Penn State will also name the STEM wing after the former Congressman.

“Our students are at the center of this project,” said Madlyn Hanes, vice president and executive chancellor for Penn State’s Commonwealth campuses. “This will expand the learning environment and expand leadership opportunities. It will help us compete in an otherwise crowded marketplace.”

Hanes cited the importance of a dining facility that would serve healthier options and areas with increased opportunities for student engagement.

Officials said the expansion could help support the local economy with a focus on education for careers that are in demand.

Penn State Lehigh Valley hired Alvin H. Butz of Allentown as the construction firm for the project and Spillman Farmer Architects of Bethlehem as the architect.

The Lehigh Valley campus is in the process of raising $1.8 million from private donors to support the expansion.

Early outreach, big dreams leading more students to engineering majors

Engineering professor, Sara Atwood, works with a pair of engineering students at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown. PHOTO/SUBMITTED –

Educators in the region’s colleges and universities say they are seeing a steady growth in students interested in majoring in engineering disciplines, and the ones coming into their programs are showing more knowledge and have more hands-on experience than in the past.

Most see two main factors for the trend:

First is the availability of engineering jobs and the salaries. Second, the years of pushing the idea of engineering careers and other STEM fields to the young set are starting to pay off.

The current starting salary projection for Class of 2020 engineering graduates is $69,961 per year, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Those salaries can be earned in a variety of fields.

In Pennsylvania, a number engineering disciplines are in demand.

The Workforce Development Board of the Greater Lehigh Valley named civil engineers, mechanical engineers and industrial engineers as some of the most in-demand engineering fields. Demand for skills in drafting, engineering and mapping technologies is also very strong.

At Penn State Lehigh Valley in Center Valley, which has a two-year engineering program, Tracey Carbonetto, a lecturer of mechanical engineering, said the majority of students on campus are in some sort of an engineering program. Mechanical, industrial, civil, aerospace and biomedical are among the top being studied, she said.

“There’s a lot of different directions an engineering career can take you,” she said. “And there’s a promise of a good job market. They’re not going to toil away for four years and then get out of school and they can’t find a job.”

At Elizabethtown College, which has a prominent engineering program in Lancaster County, engineering professor, Sara Atwood, said the growth in engineering interest has been significant.

“In the last 10 years we have definitely had a huge increase in engineering enrollment. We are essentially at capacity for our program,” Atwood said.

She said the engineering degree gives them skills they can use in engineering jobs or even in finance or law careers.

At Lehigh University in Bethlehem, which has one of nation’s top engineering programs, it’s harder to quantify an increase in demand, said Greg Tonkay, associate dean for academic affairs in the engineering college. Demand to get into Lehigh’s engineering program is always strong, he said.

“We tend not to see large changes in enrollment in engineering because the school tries to balance its enrollment in different programs,” Tonkay said.

He did note that the incoming students are coming with a level of know-how, hands-on experience and enthusiasm that he wasn’t seeing 10 years ago.

He credits scholastic STEM Programs for letting younger students experiment with engineering technologies and create real-world projects that go beyond basic academic lectures.

“There was a time prior to the STEM push, where students had no experience working with their hands,” Tonkay said. “Society as a whole doesn’t fix as much anymore, so there’s no tinkering. STEM started a bunch of activities that are hands on so they can decide if it’s something they want to do or not.

Atwood said such programs have helped to increase women enrollment.

“We’ve seen that the effects of such programs have doubled the percent of women in engineering and more people are being exposed to it at an earlier age,” Atwood said. “10 years ago people came in here and didn’t really know what engineering meant.”

Karen Buck, manager of workforce initiatives for the Manufacturers Resource Center of the Lehigh Valley, said there are many academic programs being developed throughout the state of Pennsylvania to expose younger people to opportunities in engineering from actual lesson plans that focus on engineering subjects to extracurricular efforts.

She pointed to the “What’s so Cool About Manufacturing” contests, which sends eighth grade students into manufacturers to create videos about their operations, as a popular program that began in Lehigh and Northampton counties seven years ago and is debuting in Central Pennsylvania this year.

There is also a “Dream Team” of recent engineering grads that go into schools to talk to school students about engineering opportunities.

“This is good because they’re getting to talk to people a little closer to their age,” Buck said.

Carbonetto said bio-medical fields and green technology are also attracting students that hope to use their education to shape a better world.

“In the bio-medical file all of these possibilities are becoming feasible,” she said. “These students have the option to do something that may be remarkable. They can have an impact on the world when they’re 22-23 years old.”


Is robo-advising the future of investment banking?

Artificial intelligence speeds data crunching but the personal touch is still important

In investment banking, elements of artificial intelligence have started infiltrating the world of money management, changing the nature of the industry.

For people in financial management, AI saves time and money.

The full use of artificial intelligence, also known as machine intelligence, is much further into the future for most companies, since it allows machines to automatically respond to their environment without human involvement and could allow software to make decisions.

AI is the technology that allows a computer to think for itself. The first ripples of that have been coming the past few years with the use of algorithms to speed the flow of data. It has started picking up in the areas of wealth management and financial advising and banking professionals and other money managers have taken notice.

“It’s accelerated a lot in the last few years,” said Connor Darrell, assistant vice president and head of investments at Valley National Financial Advisors in Hanover Township, Northampton County. “Through the technology enhancements, you see more creative ways of building portfolios. A lot of times, it drives down costs as well because all that information is aggregated as well.”

What had been a historically complex method of building a portfolio is now less labor intensive since the computer does that work for you, he added. For example, a company that wants to issue a report on where its revenues are going could collect the data it needs using computer software rather than several people.

It’s changing the role that an analyst or portfolio manager might have and takes away what might have been a time-consuming task, Darrell said. “I think it augments the process, just having more information at your fingertips. It gives us more tools to choose from.”


Keith Aleardi

Keith Aleardi, executive vice president and chief investment officer at Fulton Financial Advisors in Lancaster, said his firm looks at the issue through two lenses. One is through the direct involvement from investors, and the most common platform is robo-advising, he said. Robo-advising is where a person uses a computer rather than a human adviser to give financial advice.

The other lens is from a practitioner and adviser perspective, in looking at how an adviser uses technology to help clients to reach their financial objectives, Aleardi said.

“Robo advisers have gained some traction in the investment world,” Aleardi said. “The client interacts primarily with a technology platform. We see that at certain segments, primarily more the savers and retirees.”

Where Fulton really sees an opportunity for financial technology is as a way for an adviser to do a better job, Aleardi said.

“Technology can help drive and analyze data and models so advisers are more informed when planning a portfolio through analytics and data and stress-testing a portfolio,” he said. “An adviser can better predict what risks in the portfolio can be prepared for.”

With robo advisers, there’s always going to be a segment where technology will replace a human, but some types of relationships are above technology.

Fulton does not have any robo advisers, Aleardi said.

“We have put a premium on relationships and interaction and understanding of those relationships,” he said.

The use of robo advisers appears to have plateaued, according to Aleardi. “I get less questions from clients about it than we have in the past. We will always see changes in the industry and technology continues to play a part in financial services.”

Still in infancy

Tom Cassidy

On the other hand, true artificial intelligence in the investment world is still in its infancy, according to Tom Cassidy, chief investment officer at the wealth management group for Peoples Security Bank & Trust Co.

Cassidy, who works in both the Scranton and Bethlehem offices, said AI will change the industry but much of what’s happening in wealth management or financial services wouldn’t be considered AI, with a computer actually learning something.

“It will never take over human contacts,” he said. “Ultimately, that’s what our business comes down to, at least from being in this business for as long as I have. The wealthy individuals prefer to deal with somebody face to face. A lot of what trips up humans when it comes to investing is emotions.”

When something is happening in the marketplace, clients need to talk to someone who can ensure that their portfolio will be sound and essentially, ‘talk them off the ledge,’ he added.

Investors get nervous and jump in and out of their investments at the wrong time, which can take the form of abandoning their financial plan, he said.

“That is the biggest advantage to working with an adviser,” Cassidy said. “They can help keep you on track. It’s very easy to be emotional and jump in and out of things.”

Cassidy believes that AI is going to work in tandem with advisers and help them enhance personal connections.

“I think it will help them be more efficient,” Cassidy said.

One expert sees the use of robo advisers and AI as a way to achieve a maximum return for a general level of risk.

Mark Gruskin

“If you are managing someone’s portfolio, they have a certain level of risk,” said Mark Gruskin, associate professor of finance and accounting for Penn State Lehigh Valley. “If you are a financial manager or adviser, this is a tool to assist them.”

Gruskin views robo advisors and AI as two different things, with robo advisers responding to the individual on what the specific risks of an investment are and AI used by a funds manager who is managing a large number of assets and trying to achieve the goal of the fund.

“I expect these things to continue to exist and they will get better,” Gruskin said.

For the fund manager, the goal is more clearly defined, and generally, if you have a clearly defined objective, it lends itself better for creating software so you can use AI, he said.

“I think, as computing power has improved, most financial research seems kind of old, generally, a lot of studies on this go back in time,” Gruskin said. “I don’t see this as something that’s dominating the world. It’s just a tool to achieve an objective. It’s going to be more a tool for the practitioner to evaluate some investment objective.”

Christmas City Santa business brings the beard and the belly for authentic holiday experience

Tom Dubreuil used a $1,500 micro-grant from LaunchBox to launch his business, Christmas City Santa, which will provide Santas for events with real beards. Photo by Susan L. Angstadt –


Tom Dubreuil didn’t set out to be Santa.

Like in any good Christmas movie, the job of being jolly old St. Nick found him.

He was asked to play the role of Santa for a children’s party – mostly because he fit the suit – and he loved it.

He never thought of it as a career, though. His job was in student services at Penn State Lehigh Valley and his one run as Santa soon became a fond memory. That was until Penn State needed a Santa for its annual holiday breakfast with Santa and the Nittany Lion.

“They asked me, ‘do I know anyone?’ I volunteered to grow my beard out and did it, and I absolutely loved it,” Dubreuil said.

This time he was hooked. With his naturally white beard and naturally jolly belly he decided being Santa was both a life and career goal.

That was the beginning of his real-beard Santa business, Christmas City Santa LLC.

Helper Elves

He didn’t do it alone.

At the urging of his coworkers at Penn State he approached the school’s small business start-up program, LaunchBox to help him create a viable business plan to market himself as a real-beard Santa for corporate parties, home visits and photo shoots.

Bob Wolfe, an economics professor at Penn State Lehigh Valley and a member of the LaunchBox executive committee, remembers being impressed with Dubreuil’s pitch to join the program.

“We get a lot of very unique entrepreneurial ideas,” Wolfe said. “His were not only unique, they were perfect for Bethlehem, which is the Christmas City.”

To Wolfe it was clear Dubreuil understood what it took to become a professional Santa. “It was just a really good pitch. He left no stone unturned.”

Dubreuil used a $1,500 micro-grant from LaunchBox to help buy the custom suit and boots he needed to complete his already natural Santa look. That in itself was a challenge, he said.

So Many Santas

As he began researching his options he learned just how many styles of Santa he could be. There’s old-world, traditional Santas, ethnic Santas and, in some parts of the mid-west, more “outdoorsy” santa is popular.

“I decided to go with the Coca-Cola style Santa suit, which is most popular here,” he said.

As he began building his business he also discovered how large the community of Santas is. “There’s an entire Santa world out there. On Facebook, now, I think I have more Santa friends than my real life friends,” he said.

It was also a community that supported each other. He got many tips on how to be Santa and how to grow a Santa business.

Santa’s First Gig

Dubreuil at work, sharing his “list” with children. Photo by Ryan Matz. –

His online search for Santa work led him to Ryan Matz, a Reading-based photographer who was looking for a real bearded Santa to help him with holiday photo shoots.

“I chatted with him and we just clicked,” said Matz. “He got what I was looking for in a Santa, dealing with people and understanding the different cultures and different backgrounds, or children with special needs.”

Dubreuil wanted to offer more than the two minutes a child gets on Santa’s lap at a shopping mall photo shoot, with an immersive experience. He sits and talks with the children, showing them their names in the “naughty” or “nice” book and a map of the North Pole. And if the child is still skeptical, he shows them his official sleigh driver’s license with his photo to prove he’s the real deal.

“As a father and as a photographer, this is the experience I want my children to have,” Matz said.

The photographer said he’s even seen older children who are past their Santa years get swept away by Dubreuil’s Santa.

“He really ropes them it. He kind of takes it to the next level,” Matz said. “He sold me on Santa, and I know it’s Tom.”

Building the business

Dubreuil likes to show doubting children his special drivers’ license. Photo by Susan L. Angstadt –

But posing for a few family photos over the holidays is hardly a full-time career. If he is ever going to make a living at it, he knows he needs to grow his business to meet different demands.

Corporate and holiday parties are one way he is expanding. They generally pay well and are easy to schedule in advance. He’s also booking appearances on Santa trains in addition to his home visits.

So far it’s taking off in just his first season of operation. He had more than 45 gigs booked over the 30 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, which was about as much as he could handle by himself and with a full-time job.

While he’s happy with the success he’s had so far, he wants the business be more than just something he does to make extra money at a couple of months a year.

Continuing to work with LaunchBox, Dubreuil got help from third-year business and law students incorporating Christmas City Santa as an LLC, covering liability issues – that suit needs to be insured;  and working on plans to expand Santa-ing into a viable career.

He’s also hoping to use his merry mug for advertising by appearing in commercials and print ads as Santa Claus.

Tom Dubreuil started Christmas City Santa and this is his first year. This is his santa coat. He had an appearance scheduled for later that evening. Photo by Susan L. Angstadt –

For future holiday seasons he’s looking at recruiting other real-beard Santas to work with him, along with a Mrs. Claus and maybe an elf or two so the company has more offerings. And why stop at Christmas? Christmas City may market the idea of Santa-themed events in the off season, such as Christmas in July, to expand the time of year he can work.

Dubreuil also writes letters containing personal messages to children. Since that is internet-based it expands his service area. He’s had letter clients from as far away as Michigan and Hawaii. He’s also taking a look at merchandising, something other professional Santas have used successfully.

A Long Road Ahead

While he would love his Santa business to become a full-time gig, at 51 Dubreuil isn’t exactly looking to retire on his jolly good looks anytime soon. He understands that for the short-term, at least, Santa is a fun and rewarding side job with a strong potential to earn substantial extra income.

“But it’s more than a business,” he said. “I’m also doing a service as well.”

Making money playing Santa at corporate events helps pay the bills and allows him to do volunteer visits to children in the hospital or at youth shelters. In the end, he said, being a professional Santa is more than a job, it’s a passion and he’s looking forward to his first full season as Santa and all of the children he’s going to meet.

“I’m excited and a little bit nervous, and taking Airborne,” he said.

Taking the cold preventative is some of the best advice he got from more experienced Santas. As cute as they are, kids carry germs and having St. Nick get sick in the middle of the busy Christmas season would be very bad for business.

Medical cannabis conference attracts 250 to Penn State Lehigh

Medical marijuana products in the Ilera Healthcare line-up on display at the first Lehigh Valley Medical Marijuana Conference, held November 13 at Penn State Lehigh Valley in Upper Saucon Township. (Photo by Melinda Rizzo) –

Could medical marijuana become the next economic boom in Pennsylvania?

With roughly a million potential patients for medical marijuana uses in the commonwealth and growing, those in the industry are exploring marijuana’s many components for deriving existing “cultivars” or “strains” for product development.

So, it should come as no surprise that some 250 people registered for the first Lehigh Valley Medical Marijuana Conference held at Penn State Lehigh Valley Campus in Upper Saucon Township Wednesday night. The event was hosted by Keystone Canna Remedies, a medical marijuana dispensary in Bethlehem.

In its first year, medical marijuana sales in Pennsylvania brought in about $132 million, according to a February 2019 Marijuana Business Daily report.

“There are roughly 400 plus terpenes and more than 100 cannabinoids in the marijuana plant,” said Monica Werkheiser, a pharmacist for Keystone Canna Remedies in Bethlehem.

Keystone is a licensed medical marijuana dispensary.

Terpenes give things their smell, such as lemon or pine, according to Oludare “Dare” Odumosu, chief operating officer and chief scientific officer for Ilera Healthcare based in Plymouth Meeting.

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, and CBD, cannabidiol, are cannabinoids. THC is responsible for the “high” effect in marijuana, while CBD creates a calming effect.

Used in conjunction with terpenes in an “entourage effect,” developers can intensify or moderate certain components or effects of cannabinoids to create different products for various treatments, Odumosu explained.

A trained molecular biologist and bio chemist, Odumosu is a grower and processor seeking more ways to heal and treat conditions before patients turn to medical marijuana as a “last resort.”

“There are more than 170 unique cultivars, or strains [from which] medicines are made,” he said.

Discovering which combinations of the plant molecules work in concert to produce the physician and patient’s desired results – from focusing attention to reducing pain, calming anxiety or producing a good night’s sleep, requires research and data collection.

In Pennsylvania 23 qualifying medical conditions may be treated using medical marijuana, including anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, Crohn’s disease, cancer, severe or chronic pain, Epilepsy, and Parkinson’s disease.

Pennsylvania was the first state of approve the use of medical marijuana to treat opioid use disorder.

Medical marijuana may be administered by capsules or pills, tinctures, liquids, vaporizing oils, topical treatments or dry flowers.

“We have a population of patients who are not in control of their health, or ‘medical refugees’,” said David Gordon.

He is a marijuana physician at Allentown Wellness Center and a retired cardiac surgeon.

Gordon is approved to evaluate patients in Pennsylvania for medical marijuana treatment.

The goal of research and data collection is to bring case evidence to state legislators and regulators to add other conditions for which medical marijuana treatment can benefit patients, Odumosu said.

But because all marijuana is illegal under federal law data and studies came from outside the U.S. to qualify recently added conditions such as Autism and Tourette’s syndrome to Pennsylvania’s approved medical conditions list.

“We are way behind,” Werkheiser said.

So far, 33 states have legalized medical marijuana use. Colorado, Washington State, Oregon and Alaska are the four states to date that have legalized marijuana use without the need for a medical condition qualification.

The federal government, which classifies marijuana as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, can prosecute people for using marijuana, regardless of state law.

“Watch California, Colorado and Washington State for the future of cannabis in Pennsylvania,” said Steve Schain, a senior attorney with Hoban Law Group, a national and international cannabis and industrial hemp law firm.

“‘Recreation’ is a word that we don’t use, and adult use of cannabis is the next [legal] step,” Schain explained of medical marijuana’s future.

He argued the same model program used to grow, regulate and dispense medical marijuana in Pennsylvania could be implemented for adult use in the future, too.

Schain’s firm also handles industrial hemp is typically bred to be low or free of THC and is high in CBD cannabinoids. Examples of industrial hemp uses include fiber for textiles, paper, construction, biofuel, health foods and animal feed. With a long history of cultivation and uses dating thousands of years, it is widely regarded to be a crop of the future, according to the Hemp Basics website.