How to Get a Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Card [2018 Guide]

The practical guide

How to Get a Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Card

When discussing medical marijuana, Pennsylvania has recently stepped into the center of attention, rapidly moving forward with its State’s medical marijuana program.

On April 17, 2016, the state of Pennsylvania took a giant step as Governor Tom Wolf signed Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program into law. The new law, known as Act 16, protects registered patients and their physicians from civil and criminal penalties and creates a more organized and regulated system for patients to use medical marijuana as a treatment.

The state was given exact instructions on how to establish the program, and during late 2017, the patient application program finally opened. The state has already approved more than 50 legal and licensed dispensaries which should gradually open in the months to come.

Pennsylvania Dispensaries

The new laws will allow patients with a debilitating medical condition to purchase medical marijuana from any of the registered dispensaries without hesitation.

Even though the exact framework of the medical marijuana program is still in construction, we’ve created this complete guide that explains the current process. If you live in Pennsylvania and are in need for a Pennsylvania marijuana license (MMJ Card), then this step-by-step guide is for you.

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Here’s the Definitive Guide on How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Pennsylvania

As a resident of the state, the process on how to get a medical marijuana card in Pennsylvania is a follows:

Step 1

It is important to understand that the DOH has not yet finalized the process. Nevertheless, it is important to have everything prepared as obtaining a medical marijuana card isn’t a 2-minute job, especially in Pennsylvania.

The first step to getting a Pennsylvania medical marijuana card is to obtain your medical records and get a signed doctor’s statement from your primary care physician recommending medical cannabis as a treatment. Your doctor will have to register with the Department of Health to issue patient certifications.

You will have a stronger case if a registered medical marijuana doctor approves you for cannabis treatment. 420 doctors are physicians that hold a valid, unexpired, unrevoked, unsuspended Pennsylvania license to practice medicine.  A 420 doctor is required to take a four-hour course and be registered by the state. The department will establish and maintain an electronic database that includes a list of physicians that are registered with the program.

Please note, to obtain a medical cannabis card in Pennsylvania you are REQUIRED be a resident of the state. You’ll need to provide Proof of Residency, for example, a Pennsylvania I.D, passport or some other photo I.D.

If you are not from the state of Pennsylvania, it is still possible to get a Pennsylvania medical card, but it will be decided on a case by case basis, by Pennsylvania’s Department of Health.

Step 2

Once you have your documents from your certified physician, you will be required to create a profile with the Department of Health (DOH). Visit the Patients and Caregivers Registers and create a patient profile.

Unlike other medical states, such as the recreational state of California, Pennsylvania’s laws will require you to submit your application together with as much medical backing as possible. It’s best to obtain medical records or documentation from your doctor describing their diagnosis, before applying for an MMJ card with the state.

Similar to other medical states, you will have to have a physician-patient relationship. A “Bona fide physician–patient relationship,” which means a relationship in which the doctor has ongoing responsibility for the care, assessment, and treatment of a patient’s medical condition.

Practical Tip- The more medical history you can obtain and have signed by your doctor the higher of a chance you are going to have in being approved for a medical marijuana ID card.

Furthermore, it is always best to make sure you make copies of all your documents as you may be required to bring them along to your marijuana evaluation appointment.

Qualified patients, in Pennsylvania, will also be able to see marijuana doctors online instead of in-person. This will be made available through medical marijuana telemedicine services.

Your doctor can submit applications, or you can submit them on your own behalf.

Step 3

Once you have your papers and your physician’s medical recommendation, then next step is to upload all your documents to the Department of Health to register for the medical marijuana ID card.

Here is a quick reminder of what you will need

  • Electronic copy of photo identification;
  • Current digital photograph;
  • Visa or Mastercard for payment; and
  • Recommendation from a state medical marijuana doctor
  • For patients under 18 years of age, make sure you fill in the Safe Harbor Physician Form

Please also note that in specific cases you may be asked to complete a background check.

Step 4

Pay for the medical marijuana ID card and obtain if from an approved dispensary in Pennsylvania.

For further information feel free to contact Pennsylvania’s Department of Health Services:

Office of the Governor
508 Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Phone: 717-772-8284
Website: Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program

What are Pennsylvania Medical Cannabis Card Costs?

As of now, there is a $50 processing fee for caregiver applications. The state has not released the exact costs of the standard medical marijuana application.

More information on the Medical Card process can be found here

What are the Qualifying Conditions Required to Receive Medical Marijuana in Pennsylvania?

Patients in Pennsylvania diagnosed with one of the following severe, debilitating, or life-threatening medical conditions may qualifying for medical marijuana.

Most conditions are debilitating ones, and they include:

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS);
  • Autism;
  • Cancer;
  • Crohn’s Disease;
  • Epilepsy;
  • Glaucoma;
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) / Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS);
  • Huntington’s Disease;
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease;
  • Intractable Seizures (IS);
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS);
  • Neuropathies;
  • Parkinson’s Disease;
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD);
  • Spinal cord damage with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity;
  • Severe chronic/intractable pain of neuropathic origin/severe chronic/intractable pain in which conventional therapeutic intervention and opiate therapy is contraindicated or ineffective;
  • Sickle Cell Anemia;

Other Important Information on the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana License Process

Are there any restrictions for patients?

As a patient you may not:

  • Grow marijuana
  • Drive under the influence of marijuana
  • Give or sell marijuana to anybody
  • Use marijuana in a public place
  • Possess or smoke marijuana on a school bus or school grounds
  • Use dried leaf or whole plant marijuana
  • Smoke marijuana
  • Utilize medical marijuana in workplace environment while performing specific dangerous activities
  • Purchase food or drinks infused with marijuana

My Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Card has Expired. How Do I Get a Renewal?

This topic is yet to be determined by Pennsylvania’s DOH

Can I only Apply Online? Or Can I Physically Apply?

As of now, Pennsylvania does not have any specific details in regards to the precise program offline or any online practice of Telehealth/Telemedicine. However, there is legislation pending (House Bill 491) addressing the state’s parity law and requirements for the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact. This bill is expected to outline the rules in regards to the practice of Telehealth, in Pennsylvania.

How Long Will It take to Receive a Medical Card?

This is yet to be determined

What Are Approved Medical Marijuana Card Holders Entitled To?

Under Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program, Act 16 of 2016, patients are permitted to possess a month’s supply of medical marijuana to treat any of the medical conditions listed above. The types of medical marijuana that will be available in Pennsylvania will be limited to;

  • Pills
  • Oil
  • Topical Forms, including gel, creams, and ointments
  • A form medically suitable for administration by vaporization or nebulization (excluding dry leaf or plant form)
  • Tincture
  • Liquid

Can I take My Medical Meds to a Different State?

No. According to current state laws, patients who obtain a medical card should use medical marijuana in Pennsylvania only.

Medical marijuana patients may face local and federal charges of transporting cannabis if they cross state lines with the plant. This is valid even if the states between which they are traveling permit the use of medical marijuana.

Should you need to travel with your medical cannabis, it would be best to contact the state’s Bureau of health to follow up on the exact laws of the state you are traveling to. This would be the best practice to avoid breaking any laws.

Please note, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has the power to enforce criminal and civil federal laws relating to marijuana possession and use, irrespective of state law.

Distributing, growing, and/or possessing cannabis in any capacity, except through a federally-approved research program, is a violation of Federal law, and as of now no state or local law office provides legal defense to a crime against Federal law.

In regards to bringing meds into the state of Pennsylvania.

Only a minor under 18 years with a serious medical condition may purchase medical marijuana from a different state through a parent, legal guardian, caregiver, or spouse.

For up to 2 years following the effective date of the Act, Section 2106 of the Medical Marijuana Act states that if a legal guardian, parent, caregiver or spouse of a minor under the age of 18 years, with a severe medical condition lawfully obtain medical marijuana from a different state, territory or country to be administered to that minor, the parent, legal guardian, caregiver or spouse will not violate the Act, or the Pennsylvania Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act.

The form of marijuana obtained in the different states must be in the form permitted by Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Program.

Patients, parents, legal guardians, caregivers, and spouses must also comply with the application and certification requirements of the Act, as developed by the state’s department.

Neither Section 2106 nor the Act permits adult patients 18 years of age and older, or their caregivers, to obtain medical cannabis from a different state. For adult patients, 18 years of age and older, medical marijuana may only be obtained from a permitted dispensary in Pennsylvania, located in the commonwealth as permitted by the Act.

Who Can Use Medical Marijuana?

Pennsylvania law has several requirements for patients to be eligible to receive medical cannabis as a treatment. In addition, medical marijuana was approved by the state as it has shown that it can assist patients suffering from specific dangerous medical conditions by alleviating pain and improving patient’s quality of life.

  • A patient must have been diagnosed with a qualifying condition as stated above
  • A patient must be a resident of the State of Pennsylvania.
  • If under the age of 18 years old, a patient may obtain medical marijuana may obtain medical marijuana through a caregiver. A caregiver may be a parent or legal guardian, or a person designated by a parent or guardian, or an individual approved by the department upon a sufficient showing that no parent or legal guardian is appropriate or available.

Can I use Medical Marijuana Anywhere?

Similar to all states Pennsylvania medical cannabis card holders have to be responsible. It is important to understand that when smoking in a public place, it may be assumed that you are using for recreational use, which is illegal. Pennsylvania medical marijuana card holders are advised to consume their marijuana responsibly, in the safety of their home or in a private residence.

Can I Consume Cannabis in My Car?

No. A patient cannot drive a vehicle while under the influence of marijuana.

How Much Weed Should I consume?

We are not doctors or physicians, and therefore you should always consult with a Pennsylvania marijuana licensed physician before using any medical marijuana.

Additional Questions

Have any other questions? Please contact us through our Facebook Page or go directly to the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program

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Epilepsy clinical trial mentioned:
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Schizophrenia study:

How to Get a Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Card [2018 Guide]
June 1, 2017
  1. Daisy Payson

    Thanks for all the information. Finally got my card. Keep up the good work!

  2. SherrySh Hash Hash

    I have had the same doctor for over 4 years now and he is in West Chester. He is on the medical marijuana regerstry. He had all my records and treatments and diagnoses sent to them and Pennsylvania emailed me yesterday with my approval and gave me the sign in site to pay my 50.00. I emailed the payment today. I am wondering how long it will take to receive the card. One site I read said that my doctor gives me the prescription and I take it to the dispensary and they give me my card, another site said Pennsylvania mails it to you. I could of swore my doctor said once I’m approved and pay he gives me the card and prescription so I’m totally confused.

    1. Adam

      I think it really depends on your doctor. You need to ask him. Generally speaking, you can do it directly with the state. It does take a bit of time, but well worth the wait.

  3. Joe

    Are there any drs in north east pa. Seems the list is wrong. Any help would be life saving

  4. Jason

    This system in place is a nightmare. So many doctors far out of reach. The doctors that are listed on the Pa department of health website are not all registered yet. Apparently because of the states foot dragging. The department of health website registration page does not work. It won’t accept the information I put in even when I spoke for an hour to the support tech who was supposed to ensure that it would. I can’t be the only one because when I called back it said I’d be on an 88 minute wait. Some doctors offices I’ve called said I would have to make them my primary care physician. Like I’m gonna switch my primary care doctor to someone an hour and a half away. I’m starting to think that all of this is on purpose. Someone needs to investigate the organizations involved and the state and local government that is handling this. I have been in agonizing pain for more than ten years now. I cannot take pharmacy meds without going into shock. I have no other goddamn choice. Why make this so hard? I don’t know how much more I can stand. What the fuck is the point of even living? I can’t keep living like this. The money it will cost me is more than I can afford. How the fuck am I supposed to do this when the nearest place I can go to is 8 hours round trip. A road trip that will be so painful for me that it will make me regret living. Not to mention that I have to rent a car, which will cost me even more, because my car might not make it. News flash, it’s hard to make a lot of money while suffering all day and night. Plus I have PTSD and I have a hard time just leaving the house, much less having to go through all this hassle just to wait months to be possibly turned down because the only doctors that will prescribe this don’t live in my area. If people do give up and end up killing themselves I hope they name the Pa department of heath in the suicide note. Better give credit where credit is due. What about people worse off than me? Like completely crippled war vets. How hard is this process for, and on, them? Someone needs to answer for this.

    1. Brandyce

      I agree, they make it almost impossible to get. I have ptsd and several other mental/personality disorders. I’m scared to leave my home, which I rarely do/get to. I’m scared of people, so switching doctors is scary. I have no car and the doctors they want you to see are hours away. Bpd causes me to push everyone away so I don’t have anyone in my life to help get me there. The only real doctor even close to me/within walking distance is Geisinger and they HATE anything that isn’t man made fake life taking drugs…which not to mention I’m scared of the pills they want to force down me. There’s no hope or winning with trying to get help or become a better person in this state. Why does Pennsylvania hate us so bad? What is their problem? They will still make money like they do off of the pills they want to cram down us…maybe they just like creating new problems with those drugs. They make meth ingredients more accessible than medical Marijuana. We can see where this state puts it’s main focus.

    2. ScaredVeteran

      I’m a PTSD vet, and I’m honestly terrified. Think about it, the thought of my name as a honest serving individual who did the Fire Dept, EMS, Law and even the Marines. Being associated with marijuana even though I have a license to carry, armed security licenses, emergency responder licenses and so much more. I fear for my own safety doing this because everyone is trying to target patients who honestly just want a peaceful life. We don’t hurt anyone, we don’t do stupid things, we’re very safe drivers (especially those of us with special driving training, etc.). I feel like I’m living in 1984 (the book) and big brother is going to get all of our names and find those who aren’t fitting the government’s mold of a citizen and lock us all up. Even posting this puts me in a bad situation. If you used your real name, how many of us would still get jobs? When do we the people just get our right to freedom, to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I served this country for 2/3 of my life so far, and I’m not about to be shamed by lawmakers and cops because I’m seeking medical attention. I just want to feel like a normal person, and not get locked up for minding my own business and just trying to be a good person. Hope you guys agree, and I don’t look like a raving lunatic.

      (V for Vendetta quote, seemed fitting to all of us in this situation together)
      “But what I hope most of all is that you understand what I mean when I tell you that even though I do not know you, and even though I may never meet you, laugh with you, cry with you, or kiss you. I love you. With all my heart, I love you.”

  5. deb

    Where do i find the list of drs in my area

  6. J.C.

    How long does it usually take to get your card in the mail (in PA)? It’s been almost 2 months and I have yet to receive it. I’m ready to go to the newly opened dispensary. Any help woud be great. Thank You!

    1. Adam

      That is a bit long, have you contacted them? Remember that December all gov offices didn’t work

    2. Tia

      I believe I heard around the middle of March is when people will be receiving their cards. Good luck!


    Hi, I’m going through the process of getting my card. I have my doctor appt tomorrow, and was curious as to how long it would take to receive my card. Kind of takes the wind out of my sails reading these comments though. Anyone have positive results getting their cards? Any time frame?

  8. Julie sherman

    I have been waiting for a month for them to finish reviewing my case. Have any of you got your card yet that you had to pay $50 for? If so how long was your case under review before you were able to make a payment? I just had my second back operation and the one thing I need I can’t touch until I get my card and it’s driving me insane I just don’t understand what the holdup is would you please explain to me if you do understand why it takes so long for them to review your case I would really appreciate it thank you Julie shurman I cannot seem to get an answer back when I write and ask them this question. I’ve been having chronic pain for 15 years now I’ve had 9 surgeries and one car accident I don’t know what more to say plus I’m also suffering from PTSD

  9. Shirley Pierre

    Thank you for the information. I am praying this is the answer to my chronic pain that started with a Diagnosis of Sciatica and Spinal Stenosis and a more recent Stroke that has made my pain even more severe.

  10. Kimberly Soule

    I have been diagnosed with PTSD since 1997. I am tired of shoving pills down my throat that don’t work and are killing my liver. I see other states take care of their citizens by allowing them the option of a very affective treatment! If I need helpful meds I need to break the law! This is unjustifiable, so let’s get a move on! This is completely unethical! I need help! Now! You are turning legitimately sick people into criminals! What took you so long to accept the truth backed up by professional physicians! !! Shame on PA! Ludicrous! PA government is a joke! You’re stalling! What proof do you need now, that marijuana is a medicine? I thought this would be in place at the end of 2017! You can’t get anything done on time! PA government is absolutely incompetent!

  11. Joshua Richards

    Thank you for all the help and information.

  12. Gina L Clement

    So informative. I am in chronic pain from 5 lumbar spine surgeries n

    1. Ana

      Has anyone found an Erie dr who does NOT require you switch to them for your PCP? How much do they charge for a registration visit?

      1. Meow

        Izbicki family practice. It’s $200 for the exam but you do not need to switch Drs or sign up with them.

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