When discussing medical marijuana, Pennsylvania has recently stepped into the center of attention, rapidly moving forward with the state’s medical marijuana program.
On April 17, 2016, the state 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.
Pennsylvania has provided exact instructions for patients, caregivers, and health practitioners, and during late 2017, the patient application program finally opened. As of early 2019, the state has already approved nearly 80 licensed dispensaries, which will gradually continue to open in the months to come (23 brand new ones just received licensure in early Decemeber, 2018).
Medical marijuana laws in Pennsylvania allow patients with a debilitating medical condition to purchase medical marijuana from any registered dispensary in the state, as long as they have obtained a valid MMJ card upon the recommendation of a qualified healthcare provider.
We’ve created this guide that explains the current process for applying for a medical marijuana card in Pennsylvania. If you live in Pennsylvania and are in need of an MMJ license to purchase and use cannabis, 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 as follows:
[Please note that you will need either a valid Pennsylvania driver’s license or a valid state-issued Pennsylvania ID card. Also, your home address MUST be up to date and match your current address].
Step 1 – Register online with the Pennsylvania Patient and Caregiver Registry
The first step to getting a Pennsylvania medical marijuana card is to go online and access the Patients and Caregivers Registry. You will need to create a patient profile and provide basic information such as legal name, current address, etc.
Once you have created a profile and are registered into the online system, you will then need to find a licensed Pennsylvania doctor who is registered with the state’s Department of Health to recommend medical marijuana.
Also note that at this time, you should begin gathering your medical history and all relevant medical documents. Your MMJ doctor will need to look over your complete history before he/she is able to recommend marijuana for you.
[When you call your healthcare provider’s office, make sure to have them fax your medical history directly to the doctor that will be doing your cannabis evaluation. If you opt to receive them yourself, you will likely have to pay an additional fee].
Step 2 – Obtain a physician’s recommendation
All doctors who recommend medical marijuana in Pennsylvania are required to register with the state’s Department of Health as a Medical Marijuana Approved Practitioner. If your current doctor is NOT registered with the system, the state provides an up-to-date, electronic database of current doctors who are.
*[Please note that you will need to have completed your profile in the Patient and Caregiver Registry (Step 1) before any doctor can evaluate you].
Physician’s have access to the state’s marijuana registry program – if they deem you a qualified patient, they will submit your recommendation online (i.e. there is no specific form that you need to print out or bring into the office).
In order to be considered a “Qualified Patient,” you will need to have been diagnosed with one of the 21 medical conditions that are deemed treatable by medical marijuana under PA law (see below for the complete list of conditions).
Also note that you will need to have a “bona fide physician–patient relationship” with your recommending doctor. As per legislation in House Bill 1393, this is defined as a “physician who has completed a full assessment of the patient’s medical history and current medical condition, including a personal physical examination.”
And remember, in order to obtain a medical marijuana card in Pennsylvania you are REQUIRED to be a resident of the state. You’ll need to provide Proof of Residency in the form of a valid Pennsylvania driver’s license or a state-issued ID. Your current address MUST match the address listed on your identification.
Step 3 – Pay for the application/medical marijuana ID card
Once you have your physician’s medical recommendation, you will then need to log back into the Patient and Caregiver Registry to complete your application and pay for the Pennsylvania medical marijuana ID card.
You will need:
- An electronic copy of a photo ID (as outlined above)
- A current digital photograph (for your new MMJ card)
- A Visa or Mastercard for payment
Also, be advised that all patients (minors) under the age of 18 applying for medical marijuana in Pennsylvania will need to to have a caregiver apply on their behalf. The caregiver (typically the child’s parent or legal guardian) will also need to fill out the state’s Safe Harbor Form.
Step 4 – Visit a state-licensed dispensary and purchase medical marijuana!
Once these three steps are completed in their entirety and you are deemed eligible to receive medical marijuana in Pennsylvania, you will be able to obtain your valid MMJ identification card and purchase marijuana in state-licensed dispensaries.
Pennsylvania has approved dozens of dispensary applications, and as ofJanuary 2019, an additional 23 have been approved for licensure, and should be opening by summer 2019. Be sure to check online at the official Pennsylvania MMJ website for all 79 dispensary locations.
[For more information, you can contact the PA Department of Health Services at 717-772-8284, or email them at RA-DHMedMarijuana@pa.gov]
What are the Qualifying Conditions Required to Receive Medical Marijuana in Pennsylvania?
In order to receive medical marijuana in Pennsylvania, a patient must be diagnosed with one of the following severe, debilitating, or life-threatening medical conditions:
- Cancer (including remission therapy)
- Crohn’s disease
- Nervous tissue damage to the brain/spinal cord (CNS damage)
- Dyskinetic and spastic movement disorders (spasticity)
- Epilepsy / Intractable seizures
- HIV / AIDS
- Huntington’s disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Neurodegenerative diseases / Neuropathies
- Opioid use disorder
- Parkinson’s disease
- Intractable / Chronic pain
- Sickle cell anemia
- Terminal illness
What are Pennsylvania Medical Cannabis Card Costs?
As of now, the application fee is $50 for adult patients. Patients who qualify for one of the following government programs (and can provide proof) may be able to pay a reduced fee:
- PACE/ PACENET
[More information on the Pennsylvania Medical Card process can be found by visiting the state’s FAQ page].
Other Important Information on the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana License Process
As is the case with most states that have an operational medical marijuana program, laws and regulations are constantly changing and being update. Here is all that you need to know about the current rules and restrictions on medical cannabis in Pennsylvania:
Are there any restrictions for patients?
Yes. Even as a valid MMJ patient in the state of PA, you may NOT:
- Grow/cultivate marijuana
- Drive under the influence of marijuana
- Give or sell marijuana to anybody
- Use marijuana in a public place
- Possess or use marijuana on a school bus or school grounds
- Smoke marijuana (dry herb/flower/buds must be used with a vaporizer)
- Utilize medical marijuana in workplace environment
- Purchase food or drinks infused with marijuana
*Please note that as of January 2019, the Health Secretary has approved the sale and use of flower/dry herb, but it MUST BE USED IN A VAPORIZER. Smoking marijuana/dry herb is still prohibited.
My Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Card has Expired. How Do I Get a Renewal?
If you are approved for a medical marijuana card, PA allows the card to be valid for one year from the date it was issued. If you need to get your card renewed, you will need to re-apply using the same steps and procedures as outlined above, in addition to paying another $50 application fee. MAKE SURE to begin your renewal application at least 45 days prior to your card’s expiration.
Can I only Apply Online? Or Can I Physically Apply?
As of now, the application for medical marijuana in Pennsylvania takes place online (see outlined steps above).
How Long Will It take to Receive a Medical Card?
If all of your paperwork is in order and you are approved for medical marijuana in PA, you should receive your card within three weeks.
What Are Approved Medical Marijuana Card Holders Entitled To?
Under Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program, patients are permitted to possess a 30-day supply of medical marijuana, as recommended by their physician. Cannabis products available will include:
- Flower/dry herb (new as of April 2018)
- Topical Forms (including gel, creams, and ointments)
- A form “medically suitable for administration by vaporization or nebulization (excluding dry leaf or plant form)
Can I take My Medical Marijuana to a Different State?
No. According to current state laws, patients who obtain a medical card may 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 Department of Health directly to avoid breaking any laws.
*[Also 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].
Where can I buy medical marijuana in Pennsylvania?
The state provides a list of current dispensaries. You may access/view the list by visiting the official Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program website.
Are minors allowed to use/apply for medical marijuana in Pennsylvania?
Minors under the age of 18 may apply for and use medical marijuana. However, the application must be completed by a designated caregiver, typically the minor’s parent or legal guardian.
All parents, legal guardians, and caregivers must comply with the application and certification requirements of the Act, as developed by the state’s Department of Health.
Who Can Use Medical Marijuana?
As highlighted above, any Pennsylvania resident using medical marijuana must be:
- Diagnosed with a qualifying condition
- 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.
Can I use Medical Marijuana Anywhere?
Even with a valid MMJ card, Pennsylvania residents may not use medical marijuana in public places.
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.
Have any other questions? Please contact us through our Facebook Page or go directly to the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program
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