On April 17, 2016, the state took a giant step as Governor Tom Wolf signed Pennsylvania’s MMJ program into law. The new law, called Act 16, protects registered patients and their physicians from civil and criminal penalties. It also created 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. During late 2017, the patient application program finally opened.
As of early 2020, the state had already approved over 70 licensed dispensaries. They will gradually continue to open in the months to come.
Medical marijuana laws in Pennsylvania allow patients with a debilitating medical condition to purchase medical marijuana. They can do so from any registered dispensary in the state. This is as long as they have obtained a valid MMJ card upon the recommendation of a qualified healthcare provider.
We’ve created a guide that explains the current process for applying for a medical marijuana card in Pennsylvania. Do you live in Pennsylvania and require an MMJ license to purchase and use cannabis? If the answer is ‘yes,’ then this step-by-step guide is for you.
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How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Pennsylvania
Before you begin the process, make sure you meet the following criteria:
- At least 18 years of age.
- A legal resident of Pennsylvania that can provide proof of residency. This means a state driver’s license or state-issued ID card. Make sure your home address is up to date.
You must also have one of the qualifying conditions, which we outline later on.
Step 1 – Register Online
Go online and access the Patients and Caregivers Registry. You will need to create a patient profile and provide necessary information such as legal name, current address, etc. Next, you need to find a licensed Pennsylvania doctor who is registered with the state’s Department of Health.
You should begin gathering your medical history and all relevant medical documents. Your MMJ doctor will look over your complete record before he/she can recommend marijuana for you.
[When you call your healthcare provider’s office, make sure they fax your medical history directly to the doctor that is performing your cannabis evaluation. If you opt to receive it yourself, you will likely have to pay an additional fee].
Step 2 – Obtain a Physician’s Recommendation
You can only use a doctor registered with the state’s Department of Health as a Medical Marijuana Approved Practitioner. If your current physician is not registered with the system, the state provides an up-to-date, electronic database of doctors who are.
*[Please note that you need to have completed your profile in the Patient and Caregiver Registry (Step 1) before any doctor can evaluate you].
Physicians have access to the state’s marijuana registry program. If they deem you a qualified patient, they will submit your recommendation online. There is no specific form that you need to print out or bring into the office.
An eligible patient is diagnosed with one of the medical conditions deemed ‘treatable’ by medical marijuana under PA law. You must also 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.”
Step 3 – Pay for the Application/Medical Marijuana ID Card
Once you have your physician’s medical recommendation, log into the Patient and Caregiver Registry. You can now complete your application and pay for the Pennsylvania medical marijuana ID card.
- 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, all MMJ patients (minors) under the age of 18 must have a caregiver apply on their behalf. The caregiver (typically the child’s parent or legal guardian) must complete the state’s Safe Harbor Form.
Step 4 – Visit a State-Licensed Dispensary and Purchase Medical Marijuana!
Finally, you can obtain your valid MMJ identification card and purchase cannabis in state-licensed dispensaries. Pennsylvania has approved dozens of dispensary applications. You can check online to see updates and determine if there are many facilities near you.
[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 Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana 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) are possibly eligible for a reduced fee of $25:
- PACE/ PACENET
It also costs $50 to renew your MMJ card. While some consultations can cost $200, we have heard that some physicians offer them for under $100.
[You can find more information on the Pennsylvania Medical Card process by visiting the state’s FAQ page].
What Conditions Qualify for a Medical Marijuana Card in Pennsylvania?
Here is a list of the qualifying conditions at the time of writing:
- Anxiety disorders
- Cancer (including remission therapy)
- Crohn’s disease
- Nervous tissue damage to the brain/spinal cord (CNS damage)
- Dyskinetic and spastic movement disorders (spasticity)
- Huntington’s disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Intractable seizures
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Neurodegenerative diseases
- Opioid use disorder
- Parkinson’s disease
- Intractable / Chronic pain
- Sickle cell anemia
- Terminal illness
- Tourette syndrome
Other Information on the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana License Process
Here is all 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 a workplace environment
- Purchase food or drinks infused with marijuana
*Please note that as of January 2019, the Health Secretary approved the sale and use of flower/dry herb, but ONLY FOR USE IN A VAPORIZER.
What Types of Cannabis Can I Buy in a Dispensary?
There is still a restriction on smoking dry marijuana flower in Pennsylvania. As a result, dispensaries sell the following forms of the herb only:
- Tinctures & liquids
- Topicals such as ointments and patches
- Dry leaf or plant material for nebulization or vaporization ONLY
My Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Card Has Expired. How Do I Get a Renewal?
In PA, your MMJ card is valid for one year from the date it was issued. You need to re-apply using the same steps and procedures as you did in getting the card initially. You will receive an email 60 days before your patient certification expires. Log into your patient account and update your personal information.
Save changes and click ‘Renew my Registration.’ You will receive a verification email that outlines your next steps. You should begin the renewal process at least 45 days before the expiry date.
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, you should receive your card within three weeks.
What Are Approved Medical Marijuana Card Holders Entitled to?
Patients are permitted to possess a 30-day supply of medical marijuana, as recommended by their physician.
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 could 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.
Contact the Department of Health directly to avoid breaking any laws if you are planning to travel and bring cannabis with you.
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?
Children under the age of 18 may apply for and use medical marijuana. A designated caregiver, typically the minor’s parent or legal guardian, must complete the application. The Pennsylvania Safe Harbor Letter permits legal guardians, parents, caregivers, and spouses of minors to possess and administer MMJ on the patient’s behalf.
Can I Use Medical Marijuana Anywhere?
Even with a valid MMJ card, Pennsylvania residents may not use medical marijuana in public places. Also, a patient cannot drive a vehicle while under the influence of marijuana.
Who Can Become a Caregiver?
You can choose a caregiver to buy, possess, and administer MMJ on your behalf. The individual you select must meet the following criteria:
- At least 21 years of age.
- A resident of Pennsylvania with proof of residency and address.
- Complete a criminal background check.
- Must not have a conviction for an offense relating to controlled substances within the last five years.
You can designate up to two caregivers in the patient registry.
Have any other questions? Please contact us through our Facebook Page or go directly to the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program
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