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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References

Epilepsy clinical trial mentioned: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26724101
Anxiety case study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24321837
Depression case study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27010632
Pain Relief study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28680401
Schizophrenia study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23109356

How to Get a Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Card [2018 Guide]
June 1, 2017
9 comments
  1. deb

    Where do i find the list of drs in my area

  2. 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

  3. 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?

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. Joshua Richards

    Thank you for all the help and information.

  8. Gina L Clement

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

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