How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Pennsylvania

 In Pennsylvania

How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Pennsylvania

Just over 6 in 10 Americans are in favor of legalizing marijuana. That’s double the number of people who were in favor in 2000.

As popular support for legalizing marijuana grows, so too does the number of states adopting medical marijuana legislation. Pennsylvania is now among the states that have made marijuana legal for medical purposes.

Getting your medical marijuana card in PA isn’t difficult for patients suffering from the qualifying conditions. But what are those conditions and how do you start the process?

Keep reading to find out.

Legality of Marijuana in PA

With Senate Bill 3, introduced by Senator Daylin Leach and Senator Mike Folmer, the way for PA medical marijuana laws was paved. Then, on April 6, 2016, medical marijuana was officially legalized by governor Tom Wolf. By February 15, 2018, medical marijuana was available for qualified patients at various dispensaries throughout the state.

Known as Act 16, the new medical marijuana laws allow patients to access PA weed without any criminal or civil consequences. Under the new laws, medical marijuana means the use of the marijuana plant to treat a condition, disease, or symptom. It gives patients the right to use the whole unprocessed marijuana plant or its extracts and to access it from a more organized and regulated system.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health facilitated the implementation of the Medical Marijuana Program. They were responsible for providing instructions to patients, caregivers, as well as health practitioners after the law was passed. By late 2017, they began taking patient applications from people receiving treatment for a variety of serious medical conditions.

Patients go through a registration and approval process before they can purchase medical marijuana from a designated state dispensary. Once certified, a medical marijuana patient can buy PA weed from any of the 80 licensed dispensaries set to open over the course of 2019.

Who Qualifies for PA Medical Marijuana Registry?

Not just anybody can purchase marijuana from a dispensary. To do so, you must be a qualified patient and hold a medical marijuana card. But how do you qualify for the Program?

Qualified patients are people being treated for 1 of the 21 qualifying medical conditions. Under PA law, the following conditions are deemed treatable by medical marijuana:

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Autism
  • Cancer (this includes remission therapy)
  • Chronic pain
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV / AIDS
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Intractable seizures
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Nervous tissue damage in the central nervous system
  • Neurodegenerative diseases
  • Neuropathies
  • Opioid use disorder
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Spastic movement disorders
  • Terminal illness

Caregivers can assist qualifying patients who are under the age of 18. A patient under the legal age requirement can elect up to 2 caregivers to obtain medical marijuana on their behalf.

Patients over the age of 18 who require a caregiver to obtain medical marijuana for them may also designate a caregiver to do so. These caregivers can be added to the application in the Medical Marijuana Registry. They’ll also be required to register for the program as well as have a background check completed.

How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in PA

If you have a condition that qualifies for medical marijuana, you’ll have to go through the PA medical marijuana registry process to obtain a medical marijuana card.

Only residents of Pensylvania can register under the PA medical marijuana laws. If you’re a resident and a qualifying patient, these 4 steps are all that are involved.

Step 1: Register for the Program

Registration is the first step in getting your medical marijuana card in PA. You can register for the program through the Medical Marijuana Registry. At this time, registration is only available online.

Registration involves creating a profile in the online database. The profile contains basic personal information.

You’ll need to enter your legal name, current address, and contact information. You’ll also need to have a driver’s license issued by the state of Pennsylvania. If you don’t have a driver’s license, you can use any ID card issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

Step 2: Get Certified By an Approved Physician

After you’ve completed your online registration, you can start to collect medical documents and any information regarding your medical history. A certified physician can assess your documents. They’ll verify whether you suffer from any of the conditions that qualify for treatment with medical marijuana.

A physician cannot recommend medical marijuana until you’ve finished your program registration. They also cannot recommend marijuana without reviewing your entire medical history and completed a full assessment, including a physical examination. Having this bona fide physician-patient relationship is essential to fulfilling the legal requirement of the PA medical marijuana law.

But not just any physician can recommend medical marijuana as a course of treatment for the qualifying conditions. The physician must be registered with the state’s Department of Health as a Medical Marijuana Approved Practitioner. If the physician you’re currently receiving treatment from isn’t approved to recommend medical marijuana, you can look for an approved physician online.

In the case you’re switching to a Medical Marijuana Approved Practitioner from your current doctor, ensure that you have them fax your medical history to the doctor you’re going to see. Beyond being more efficient, it’ll save you money. Obtaining your own physical medical history may cost a nominal fee.

After you’ve been evaluated by an approved physician, they’ll certify you. If they recommend marijuana as a suitable treatment for your condition, they can submit that recommendation directly into the Medical Marijuana Registry. Approved physicians have their own access to the Registry and there’s no forms or return visit required from you at this stage.

Step 3: Pay for Your Medical Marijuana Card

After your physician certifies you and submits their recommendation, you have to return to the online Medical Marijuana Registry. There, you can complete your application and pay for your ID card.

To complete your application, you’ll need an electronic copy of a photo ID that’s issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. You’ll also be required to submit a current digital photograph. Finally, you make your payment with a Visa or a Mastercard and your card will be on its way.

Step 4: Get Your Medical Marijuana Card

After completing your application and paying for your ID card, your paperwork will be processed by the Department of Health. As long as all the paperwork is done properly and you’re approved, you should receive your ID card within 3 weeks. That means you can now purchase medical marijuana from any of the approved, state-licensed dispensaries in PA.

But remember that the medical marijuana card in PA does expire. According to the PA medical marijuana laws, a medical marijuana card is only valid for 1 year. That time period begins the date it was issued to you.

When your card expires, you’ll have to obtain a new one in order to purchase marijuana from a dispensary. To renew your card, you repeat steps 1 through 4, including paying another application fee.

When your card is going to expire, you should begin the registration process at least 45 days before it expires. This gives you plenty of time to go through the application and approval procedure before your card expires. Any longer than 45 days and you run the risk of your card expiring while you don’t have a new one – meaning, you can’t legally purchase marijuana in that time period.

How To Get Medical Weed in PA

According to PA law, medical marijuana can be purchased by patients with qualifying conditions. Medical marijuana can only be purchased from registered dispensaries located within Pennsylvania and it can only be purchased by those possessing a valid medical marijuana card or their elected caregivers.

Patients with a valid medical marijuana card are legally allowed to have a 30-day supply. What qualifies as a 30-day supply is up to the discretion of the physician treating the patient.

Patients may choose to purchase medical marijuana in a variety of forms. These include:

  • The marijuana flower or dried herb
  • Pills
  • Oil
  • Topical Forms (i.e. gel, creams, ointments)
  • Tincture
  • Liquid

Patients may also choose to get a form of marijuana that’s considered suitable for vaporization of nebulization. However, this form of administration doesn’t include the fry leaf or plant form.

How Much Does a Medical Marijuana Card in PA Cost?

The only cost involved in obtaining a medical marijuana card in PA is the application fee. Adult patients pay a $50 application fee to register with the program. Some patients may qualify for a reduced rate.

If a patient qualifies for 1 of these government programs, they’re eligible for a lower rate. If you qualify for Medicaid, PACE/PACENET, CHIP, SNAP, or WIC, and can provide proof, the $50 fee will be decreased.

Medical Marijuana Restrictions

Having a medical marijuana card doesn’t entitle you to grow or cultivate marijuana. But you’re also restricted in other ways. According to the PA medical marijuana laws, you can’t:

  • Drive while under the influence of marijuana
  • Use marijuana in any public space
  • Use marijuana while at work
  • Use or even possess marijuana on the grounds of a school (including a school bus)
  • Give or sell marijuana to other people (even other patients)
  • Purchase any food or drink that contains marijuana

Participating in any of the above is a violation of the PA medical marijuana laws and could result in criminal penalties and the loss of your medical marijuana card.

Smoking Marijuana

While the original law prohibited the sale and use of the dry herb as well as the marijuana flower and buds, that’s changed. As of January 2019, these forms of marijuana can be sold and used legally.

However, dry herb and buds are only permitted for use in a vaporizer. That means that it’s still illegal to smoke marijuana.

Traveling with Marijuana

The other important restriction on medical marijuana users in PA has to do with traveling. A person who has a medical marijuana card in PA is only allowed to use medical marijuana within the state. The card doesn’t permit patients to travel with or use marijuana in states outside of PA.

In fact, traveling to another state with marijuana can have serious consequences. You can face both local and federal charges, regardless of whether the state you’re traveling into has medical marijuana laws or not.

This is because the borders between states fall under federal jurisdiction and, under federal law, marijuana is a controlled schedule 1 substance. If you are caught with marijuana at a state border, the Department of Justice can enforce criminal and federal laws regarding marijuana possession, distributing, etc.

In the case, you’re traveling and require your medical marijuana while away, you should contact the Department of Health and explain your situation. They can give you and advice and recommendations on how to proceed without breaking the law.

Do You Qualify for Medical Marijuana Treatment?

Pennsylvania is just 1 of many states that have recently adopted legislation that legalizes marijuana for medical purposes. Residents of PA suffering from any of the 21 qualifying conditions can register for the Medical Marijuana Program online. After receiving a full-assessment and recommendation from an approved physician, getting a medical marijuana card in PA takes as little as 3 weeks.

Obtaining a medical marijuana card in PA is relatively quick, inexpensive, and non-invasive. If you’re suffering from a medical condition and can benefit from medical marijuana, start your registration today. And if you need more information on the effectiveness of medical marijuana and all of its potential benefits, be sure to check out our blog for more information.

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