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 has provided exact instructions for patients, caregivers, and health practitioners, and during late 2017, the patient application program finally opened. The state has already approved over two dozen legal and licensed dispensaries, which will gradually continue to open in the months to come (several are already fully operational as of summer 2018).

Pennsylvania Dispensaries

The new laws will allow patients with a debilitating medical condition to purchase medical marijuana from any of the registered dispensaries with the complete backing of state legislation.

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 a 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].

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 17 medical conditions that are deemed treatable by medical marijuana under PA law (see below for 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.”

There are also options to see marijuana doctors online instead of in-person. These are made available through medical marijuana telemedicine services.

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, but be advised that as of summer 2018, not all of them are up and running yet. (There are also over 100 pending applications for new dispensaries and locations to be added, but state legislation provides that no more than 50 dispensaries shall be operational at any one time).

You can check online with Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Program website for a list of dispensaries and locations in the state, or for more information, you can contact the Department of Health Services:

Phone: 717-772-8284
email: [email protected]

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:

  • ALS
  • Autism
  • Cancer (including remission therapy)
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Nervous tissue/Neuropathy/Central nervous system damage
  • Dyskinetic and spastic movement disorders
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV / AIDS
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Intractable seizures
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Neurodegenerative diseases
  • Neuropathies
  • Opioid use disorder (for which conventional therapeutic interventions are contraindicated or ineffective)
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Severe chronic or intractable 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:

  • Medicaid
  • PACE/ PACENET
  • CHIP
  • SNAP
  • WIC

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

Are there any restrictions for patients?

As a patient 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 April 2018, 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?

This topic is yet to be determined by Pennsylvania’s DOH (medical marijuana cards have just begun being issued in the state in the first quarter of 2018). Keep an eye on the official state website for updates.

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?

As of July 2018, this has yet to be clearly outlined/defined by the state. From what we understand, if your doctor approves/recommends you for medical marijuana, you may be able to get your ID card printed from the physician’s office on the same day as your initial visit.

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)
  • 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 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.

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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Article Sources
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How to Get a Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Card [2018 Guide]
June 1, 2017
21 comments
  1. Jess

    So I’m wondering when will they add depression on that list of ways to obtain a card because I suffer from depression and I don’t like to use RXpills… the side effects of the pills legit scare me. Why aren’t they adding depression to the list so we can get a card?

  2. Ann Darrah

    Love this site and all what you are doing for the industry.

  3. Daisy Payson

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

  4. 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.

  5. Joe

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

  6. 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)
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      “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.”

  7. deb

    Where do i find the list of drs in my area

  8. 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!

  9. JASON CORVIN

    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?

  10. 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

  11. 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.

  12. 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!

  13. Joshua Richards

    Thank you for all the help and information.

  14. 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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