Medical Marijuana Cards

Pennsylvania law now permits those who suffer from certain serious medical conditions to obtain a medical marijuana card. Act 16 was signed into law on April 17, 2016 by Governor Tom Wolf. The new law protects registered card holders and their healthcare provides from incurring any penalties from the prescription and use of medical marijuana as well as creating an easy-to-use system for patients to obtain and use medical marijuana as an option for treatment.

In order to maintain the standards set forth in the law, the state has created a set of specific instructions for patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals to follow when applying for a medical marijuana card. The program opened late 2017. Since then, the state of Pennsylvania has approved more than two dozen licensed dispensaries of medical marijuana and continues to approve others as they become operational.

The new laws permit patients with a debilitating medical condition to purchase medical marijuana from any registered dispensary in the state of Pennsylvania without fear of legal ramifications. The following information will help guide you through the process of applying for a medical marijuana card in Pennsylvania online.

Step One: Register Online with the PA Patient and Caregiver Registry

The first step towards obtaining a medical marijuana card is to visit the Patients and Caregivers Registry online. https://padohmmp.custhelp.com/app/login Follow the self-explanatory prompts on the website to become a member. You will need to fill out basic information such as your legal name, your current address, your birth date, contact information, etc.

You will need a valid Pennsylvania ID or driver’s license with a current home address. It is extremely important that your address on your ID matches the address you enter into the registry online. For example, if the address on the ID is written as “100 N. Brooks St,” do not spell it out as “100 North Brooks Street.” Enter the address exactly as it appears on your ID. You are required to be a resident of the state of PA to obtain a medical marijuana card.

At this time, you should also begin collecting documentation of your medical history and conditions. The doctor who will prescribe the medical marijuana will need to see a complete file before recommending you.

Step Two: Obtain a Recommendation by an Approved Practitioner

All doctors licensed to prescribe medical marijuana are required to register with the PA Department of Health as a Medical Marijuana Approved Practitioner. If your current physician is not on the register, you can use the electronic database provided by the state to locate a physician who can legally recommend the supplement to you. Before the doctor can evaluate you as a potential candidate for medical marijuana, you will need to have a complete profile set up in the PA Patient and Caregiver Registry as mentioned above.

If the physician deems you to be a patient qualified for access to the medical marijuana program, he or she will submit your recommendation online. You are not required to print out a specific form for or bring any other paperwork to the office. According to the law, you will need to have a “bona fide physician-patient relationship” with the doctor recommending the medical marijuana as a treatment option for your condition. According to House Bill 1393, a bona fide physician-patient relationship is defined as “a physician who has completed a full assessment of the patient medical history and current medical condition, including a personal physical examination.” However, there are exceptions to this rule. In some cases, you will be allowed to see a participating physician online instead of an in-person visit through medical marijuana telemedicine services.

Step Three: Purchase the Application/Medical Marijuana ID Card

Upon obtaining your physician’s medical recommendation, you will need to complete your application online through the Patient and Caregiver Registry and pay for your Pennsylvania medical marijuana ID Card. In order to complete these steps, you will need an electronic copy of your photo ID, a current digital photograph and a Visa or Mastercard for payment. If you are under the age of 18, a caregiver can apply for the medical marijuana on your behalf. The caregiver will need to fill out the PA Safe Harbor Form as part of the application. The application fee for an adult patient is currently $50. However, if a patient is a participant in a government program such as CHIP, SNAP or Medicaid, he or she may be eligible for a reduced fee.

Step Four: Locate a Licensed Dispensary

Upon completion of these steps, you will be able to purchase medical marijuana from any licensed dispensary in the state of PA. Although the state has approved a significant number of applications, not all of the dispensaries are fully operational. There are also more than 100 pending applications for mew dispensary locations. However, state legislation dictates that no more than 50 dispensaries shall be operational at any given time. To locate a dispensary, visit the PA Medical Marijuana Program website for a complete list of their locations within the state. You can also contact the Department of Health Services by phone at 717-772-8284 or email at RA-DHMedMarijuana@pa.gov.

Qualifying Conditions

In order to receive a recommendation for medical marijuana in the state of Pennsylvania, a patient must be diagnosed with one or more of the following conditions:

  1. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS): ALS is a motor neuron disease that characterized by muscle spasms, loss of muscle tone (atrophy), difficulty speaking and swallowing and increased breathing difficulty. ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
  2. Autism: Autism, also known as autism spectrum disorder or ASD, is a broad range of conditions characterized by difficulty in socializing, repetitive behaviors and communication problems. There are many types of autism, each with its own unique set of conditions.
  3. Cancer: Cancer is an abnormal growth of damaged cells that invade the body. These damaged cells are unable to properly divide or be processed by the immune system and multiply out of control. Over 100 types of cancer are known to affect humans.
  4. Nervous Tissue/Neuropathy/Central Nervous System Damage: Any damage to the nervous system or nervous tissues falls under this category and can be a reason for a medical marijuana recommendation.
  5. Dyskinetic and Spastic Movement Disorders: A movement disorder characterized by involuntary muscle movements.
  6. Epilepsy: Epilepsy is the fourth most common neurological disorder and causes unpredictable seizures.
  7. Glaucoma: Glaucoma is a condition where the pressures in the eyes build up to dangerous levels, resulting in damage to the optic nerve and potential blindness.
  8. HIV/AIDS: Human immunodeficiency virus infection and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) is caused by infection with the human immunodeficiency virus and affects more than 36 million people worldwide.
  9. Huntington’s disease: Huntington’s disease (HD) is also known as Huntington’s chorea. The disorder results in brain cell death and creates coordination loss and memory problems in more advanced stages.
  10. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD): IBD is a group of intenstinal disorders that causes chronic inflmamtion of the deigestive tract. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis both fall into this category.
  11. Intractable seizures: Intractable seizures is an epileptic disorder that is unresponsive to treatment.
  12. Multiple sclerosis (MS): Multiple sclerosis is a disease resulting in the degeneration of the myelin sheath, the protective outer layer present on nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.
  13. Neurodegenerative diseases: One of several conditions where neuron death occurs including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
  14. Opioid use disorder: Medical marijuana can be used to treat this condition when conventional treatment methods prove to be ineffective.
  15. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): PTSD is a mental disorder that can be caused by exposure to a traumatic event.
  16. Severe chronic or intractable pain: Uncurable pain from a chronic condition or intractable pain disease (IP).
  17. Sickle cell anemia: A condition where abnormally formed blood cells shaped like crescents can slow or block blood flow, leading to low iron levels and pain.

Requirements

As a valid holder of a medical marijuana card, you are required to follow certain rules. Medical marijuana users are not allowed to do the following:

  • Grow marijuana
  • Give or sell marijuana to anyone
  • Use marijuana in public places or work environments
  • Possess or use marijuana on school property/vehicles
  • Smoke marijuana (vaporizing only)
  • Purchase food or drinks containing marijuana
  • Drive while under the influence of marijuana

FAQs

Q: How do I renew my medical marijuana card?

A: Medical marijuana cards were just begun to be issued in the first quarter of 2018. As of yet, there is no renewal process. Keep an eye on the official state website for updates.

Q: Can I apply in person?

A: As of now, the application for medical marijuana in Pennsylvania takes place online.

Q: How long will it take for me to receive my medical card?

A: The timeframe for receiving a medical marijuana card has yet to be clearly defined. However, it may be possible for you to obtain your card the same day as your visit if your physician approves your application.

Q: Can I take my medical marijuana card to another state?

A: No. According to current laws, patients who obtain a medical marijuana card may only use the product in the state of PA. This law is valid even if the states between which you are traveling permit the use of medical marijuana and prohibits the transfer of the drug across state lines.

Q: What can I obtain with my medical marijuana card?

A: Under the Pennsylvania medical marijuana program, patients are permitted to possess a 30-day supply of medical marijuana as recommended by their physician. Medical marijuana products include:

  • Pills
  • Oil
  • Liquids and tinctures
  • Topical forms (gel, cream, ointment)
  • A vaporization/nebulization solution
  • Flower/dry herb

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