How To Get a Medical PA Marijuana Card - [Updated 2019]
Medical Marijuana in Pennsylvania
Before we walk you through the process of obtaining a medical marijuana card in the state of Pennsylvania, we’ll save some of you some time by first laying out the qualifying medical conditions. If you do not suffer from one of these medical conditions you are not (yet) eligible for a medical marijuana card in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Qualifying Conditions
According to officials, only patients suffering from one of the following medical conditions may participate in Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Cancer, including remission therapy
- Crohn’s disease
- Intractable spasticity
- Dyskinetic and spastic movement disorders
- HIV / AIDS
- Huntington’s disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Intractable seizures
- Multiple sclerosis
- Neurodegenerative diseases
- Opioid use disorder
- Parkinson’s disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Severe chronic or intractable pain
- Sickle cell
- Terminal illness
It is possible that more conditions could be added in the future. It’s also possible that lawmakers will put the decision of who can benefit from medical marijuana into the hands of doctors where it belongs, but for now, these are the only qualifying conditions.
A Brief History
Pennsylvania’s march toward a comprehensive medical marijuana program arguably began on January 20, 2015, when Constable Ed Quiggle, Jr. of Sunbury signed the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Reform Resolution. With this act, came a policy of tolerance. The resolution called for non-cooperation in the enforcement of any acts which, according to Wikipedia, “prohibit, penalize, or criminalize the possession, cultivation, or use of medical cannabis, hemp, cannabinoids, and other illegal or experimental drugs, becoming the first law enforcement agency in Pennsylvania, and perhaps the first in the United States, to enact such a policy.”
Then in April of 2016, with Senate Bill 3, Pennsylvania became the 24th state to officially legalize medical marijuana. The legislation paved a path for the production, processing, and sale of medical marijuana to patients suffering from any of 17 qualifying medical conditions.
Although Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program seemed to get off to a shaky start, it is operating relatively smoothly at this point in time. In the early days of the program, dried flower and other smokables were prohibited, however that has since been overturned and smokables are allowed.
Steps To Getting Your Medical Marijuana Card In Pennsylvania
There are three steps involved in gaining legal access to medical marijuana in Pennsylvania.
- Register for the program through the Medical Marijuana Registry.
- Get a certification from a physician stating that you suffer from one of the qualifying medical conditions.
- Pay fees associated with a medical marijuana ID card.
Step 1 – Registering for Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program
Registering for Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program is fairly straight forward.
First, you need to create a profile in the Medical Marijuana Registry which includes basic information such as your legal name, current address, and contact information.
In order to register, you must have a Pennsylvania driver’s license or an ID card issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
Step 2 – Get certified by a Pennsylvania licensed physician
Step 2 in qualifying for the Pennsylvania medical marijuana program is to have a state-licensed physician certify that you suffer from at least one of the qualifying medical conditions.
Physicians are required to register with the Pennsylvania Department of Health in order to be allowed to recommend medical marijuana to their patients. If your doctor is not registered with the Department of Health, you can find an approved physician by filling out the form below.
Once a physician has examined you, and approved your application, they will submit their certifications directly to the system.
Step 3 – Pay $50 fee
Once your doctor has deemed your condition worth of taking part in the Pennsylvania medical marijuana program you’ll to return to the Medical Marijuana Registry and complete your application at which time you’ll be required to remit a $50 fee.
If you are involved in any assistance programs such as Medicaid, PACE/PACENET, CHIP, SNAP, and WIC, you might be eligible for fee reductions.
Permitted Medical Marijuana Products
Once you’ve received your card, you’re probably off and running to your local dispensary. Although you’re likely to find an array of products there are also some things you won’t find — like smoking paraphernalia.
The types of products available at dispensaries in Pennsylvania include:
- dried cannabis
Although you are permitted to purchase dried cannabis, it is not legal to smoke marijuana in the state of Pennsylvania, therefore your only options are to use a vaporizer or use it to make edibles the sales of which are also prohibited.
Patients who do not have the means to obtain medical marijuana and patients under the age of 18 may designate up to two caregivers to assist in obtaining medical marijuana. You can designate a spouse, a parent, or even a friend.
As with physicians, caregivers are also required to register for the medical marijuana program. Furthermore, caregivers are required to undergo a background check before being approved. Applicants with previous drug convictions and will be denied.
Renewing Your Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Card
Your card is good for one year from the time of registration. Your expiration date will be printed on the front of the card.
You’ll receive an email 60 days before your patient certification and ID card expire and another email 30 days before your renewal payment is due with instruction on how to renew your card and the due date of your payment which is about a week before the expiration date on your card.
If payment is made by that date, your registration will automatically be deactivated. However, as soon as you log in and make the payment, your card will be immediately reactivated.
In order to pay the fee to renew your Pennsylvania medical marijuana card, you’ll need to log in to your patient account as a returning user. Follow these steps:
- In the blue ribbon at the top of the page, click “profile settings.”
- Review and update personal information.
- Save your changes and click “Renew my registration.”
The next step is to visit your doctor for an annual evaluation. It does not need to be the same physician who examined you for the initial certification.
Assuming you are re-certified by your doctor, you will receive an updated card in the mail with an issue date of the day after your original card expired.
That’s it! You’re good to go for another year.