Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Laws

PA Medical marijuana Laws | Pennsylvania State Medical Marijuana Regulations

Two years ago, Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania enacted SB 3. This legislation related to medical marijuana was first approved by the Pennsylvania Senate on May 12, 2015. After, the House approved it on March 14-16 that following year. Following that, the Senate made further changes and it was finally approved by the House on April 13th of that same year.

To find the most up to date news regarding medical marijuana legislation in the state of Pennsylvania, check out the official website of Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Program here.

Certification

In order to gain approval for the medical marijuana program, you must be visiting a healthcare physician who then will issue you a certification. This certification can only be obtained in person. As a patient that’s been approved for medical marijuana, you must have this certification that states that you have a qualifying illness. The certification also states that your doctor believes medical cannabis can help with the condition.

To register as a certified physician, physicians must complete a number of steps. They have to register with the Pennsylvania Department of Health and complete a four-hour course. They must also be registered and regularly report to the Department of Health in the case that the patient no longer needs medical cannabis. This can occur when the patient’s condition improves or when they die.

Insurance

At the moment, both private insurance companies and government assistance programs are not required to cover or refund costs relating to medical cannabis. This also includes costs relating to the use of cannabis in the workplace. Employers are not responsible for accommodating marijuana use.
Dispensaries and Distribution

There are only allowed to be up to 150 dispensaries in the state. Only fifty dispensaries are able to receive permits by the states to open a business. Those fifty can only open three stores resulting in that total number of 150. As of April of last year, there are 18 dispensaries in operation within Pennsylvania.

Out-of-State

Patients seeking medical marijuana treatment in Pennsylvania that are not state residents cannot qualify for treatment. They must be residents of the state and provide documentation proving it.

Medical Conditions
Individuals with the following medical conditions can gain approval for medical marijuana. They can also qualify if they’re suffering from a terminal illness.
• Autism
• Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
• Crohn’s Disease
• Cancer
• Epilepsy
• Glaucoma
• HIV or AIDS
• Huntington’s Disease
• IBS
• Seizures
• MS
• Neuropathies.
• Parkinson’s
• PTSD
• Chronic Pain
• Sickle Cell

Recently, the Secretary of Health in the state of Pennsylvania approved the addition of cancer remission therapy as an acceptable condition to receive medical marijuana. This occurred on April 16, 2018.

Legality
A legally registered patient is protected from arrest, prosecution, and discrimination relating to their medical marijuana use in cases of child custody. Employers are not required to accommodate the on-job use of medical cannabis. This legal protection is not into effect until as a patient, you receive the state’s medical marijuana registration card. There is currently no timeline for the issuance process.

The legalization relating to the operation of dispensaries will expire in three years. The Federal government at that time will have completed the “rescheduling” of marijuana.

Regulation
Sb 3 created the medical program in 2016.

Taxes

The application process for prospective dispensaries costs $5,000. For growers and processors, the application fees amount to $10,000. Medical marijuana businesses will be required to be a registration fee of $30,000 for each dispensary. The cost for a grower will be $200,000.

Additionally, the growers and processors of medical cannabis will be required to pay a 5% tax on any marijuana sold to a dispensary. Patients are to pay $50 for their registration card, however, this fee can be waived under financial hardship. These fees can be changed by the state’s advisory board.

Usage
Medical cannabis is only available in pill, oil, gel, cream, ointment, tincture, and liquid form. At the moment, dry flower is not legal. As long as it is a non-plant form, it can be vaporized. Also, dispensaries are unable to sell edibles in Pennsylvania. However, medical marijuana products can be mixed into food or drink after being purchased by a dispensary. While vaping is allowed, smoking is illegal. Also on April 16th, the Secretary of Health approved the potential addition of dried flower for vaporization purposes. The petition has 90 days before it can be legally implemented.

Growers
The Department of Health is due to issue a combined 25 permits for growers. Growers are required by law to utilize seed-to-sale tracking, surveillance systems, and detailed record-keeping. As of April of last year, twelve growers are approved. To become a legally operable grower, you have to provide the following:

• Provide information relating to:
o The ability to maintain security and regulatory standards
o Compliance with municipality zoning
o Diversity plan
The application must include:
• Non-refundable fee of $10,000.
• Refundable permit fee of $200,000.
• 2$ million of capital with proof. $500,000 has to be deposited within a bank or other financial institution.

Safe Harbor Letters for Minors
Currently, there are temporary regulations on safe harbor letters. These were enacted on June 25, 2016, and expired last year on May 17th. The expiration may also come sooner depending on the Department of Health’s implementation program.
The temporary regulations are as follows:

Safe Harbor Letter

This letter provides the applicant with the ability to legally administer medical cannabis to minors in the state.

The letter is valid from its issuance until the date of expiration noted above, or the implementation of permanent legislation. Additionally, the following can change the validity:

• When the patient turns 18.
• The condition improves.
• The patient moves from the state.
• A change in physician, which would require the minor to contact the Department of Health with a new letter from their new physician.
• The minor or applicant passes away or cannot complete their responsibilities
• Regulation

Qualifying as a Minor

A minor is a patient within the state of Pennsylvania under the age of 18 with a qualifying condition.

Qualifying as an Applicant

This can include parents, caregivers, or guardians that believe a minor patient is in need of medical cannabis. Applicants can apply to the Department of Health even if the medical cannabis was sourced outside the state.

Medical Cannabis

This includes pills, oils, and the other non-whole plant forms listed above. These can be administered via vaping or ingestion. While manufactured edible products are not legal, cannabis products can be mixed with food or drink after it has already been produced. Smoking is not legalized, but vaping is.

Qualifying as a Caregiver

In the case that a minor does not have a legal guardian or parent to serve as an application, the Department of Health can approve an individual that is at least 21 years of age to be a caregiver. If the minor is married to someone under the age of 21, that individual can take the place as a caregiver.

Liability Concerns

The state of Pennsylvania is not liable to other states or companies that provide medical marijuana services to patients within Pennsylvania. They also are not liable for damage, injury, or loss due to the growing, dispensing, and sale of medical cannabis to an applicant or minor.

Ineligibility

Medical marijuana patients may have their registration revoked in certain cases. They also may be denied registration. This includes:

• A conviction relating to drugs, narcotics, or controlled substances in the past five years.
• Issues with drug abuse.
• History with controlled substance usage.
• False or faked information on the application.
• Conviction of crime relating to morality. You must have good moral character.
• An intentional violation of a provision relating to medical cannabis within the state.

If you’re rejected as an applicant, or have your registration revoked, you are then not allowed to take part in the program for five years.

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