How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Pennsylvania
Posted by Lori Ann Reese on 08/31/2020 in How-Tos
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Program was signed into law on April 17, 2016 by Governor Tom Wolf. Pennsylvania was the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana in the United States. Since 2018, qualified patients and medical marijuana cardholders have been able to buy cannabis legally. Here is a guide to getting your Medical Marijuana card in PAPe.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) has just released a two-year report on the progress of the state medical marijuana program. The report was released on May 15, 2020, and it states that there are currently 1,889 licensed marijuana doctors in Pennsylvania and 306,291 patients who are current MMJ cardholders.
When conventional treatments and prescription medications do not work for patients in Pennsylvania, there is a new and natural option. Medical cannabis is well tolerated by patients with many different types of chronic health problems. It can be an effective way to help manage pain, inflammation, and mental health conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Getting a Pennsylvania medical marijuana card is not difficult or expensive for patients who have one or more of the legally qualifying health conditions. And for caregivers of patients and minors with health problems, there are special provisions to help your loved one access cannabis for therapeutic use in PA.
What Health Conditions Qualify for a PA Medical Marijuana Card?
The Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program initially launched with a list of 17 qualifying health conditions. Qualifying health conditions are a list of diagnoses that a patient must have to get a PA medical marijuana card. Today, there are 21 qualifying health conditions. This helped make medical marijuana legally accessible to more patients in Pennsylvania.
Some of the qualifying health conditions for medical marijuana in Pennsylvania include:
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Crohn’s Disease
- Sickle Cell Anemia
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Severe chronic or intractable pain of neuropathic origin, or if conventional therapeutic intervention and opiate therapy is contraindicated or ineffective
The first step in getting your Pennsylvania medical marijuana (MMJ) card is to have a diagnosis that is approved by the state for use. Learn more about all the qualifying health conditions and see if you have a diagnosis that qualifies.
Registering as a Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Patient
After you have received your letter of recommendation from the marijuana doctor, you are cleared to take the next steps to get your Pennsylvania medical marijuana card. The process is done online (you can do it from home), but you will need to have access to a smartphone, tablet, or computer. And you will need an email address.
1. Create a patient profile in the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Registry.
2. Provide your contact information and upload a copy of your Pennsylvania driver’s license or an identification card issued by the PA Department of Transportation. If you don’t currently have a driver’s license or government-issued ID card, you can apply online.
After you have successfully completed your patient registration, you can move ahead and find a marijuana doctor to complete the health evaluation. The physician you choose must be approved and on the Medical Marijuana Registry. The physician will need to have access to the Medical Marijuana Registry software to upload their letter of recommendation for your application.
Each Pennsylvania physician listed with Marijuana Doctors is a certified marijuana doctor, who can complete your evaluation and application with you. If you have had a positive experience with your Pennsylvania marijuana doctor, leave them a review on our website. It helps other patients find the right doctor to help them get their PA medical marijuana cards.
Making an Appointment with a Pennsylvania Marijuana Doctor for Evaluation
Every state that has legalized medical marijuana, requires doctor supervision and approval. This requires the patient to find an evaluating physician for an examination and interview before you can be approved for the PA medical cannabis program.
In May of 2020, there were 1,889 physicians licensed to perform these special health evaluations. And the majority of them provide convenient telemedicine appointments. Simply choose the doctor you would like online and schedule your telemedicine appointment. The evaluations for telemedicine happen through a private video conference call between you and the physician.
The purpose of the marijuana doctor’s health evaluation in Pennsylvania is to complete a safety check. Medical cannabis is well tolerated for patients with a variety of health conditions. There are a few health conditions where it is not recommended. The evaluating physician will meet with you to review your health needs, pain level, and symptoms. They will also answer any questions you have about using medical cannabis to treat your health needs. Or the needs of the patient in your care.
If you have met all the safety checks and the physician feels that medical marijuana could help your symptoms, the doctor will help you with the next registration step. The physician will upload their signed letter of recommendation to the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program website and add it to your registration profile. The information is reviewed by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and if all the information is correct, they will issue you a medical marijuana card.
The cost of registration is $50. However, patients who are receiving financial assistance such as Medicaid, PACE/PACENET, CHIP, SNAP, and WIC may be eligible for a discount on PA marijuana card fees. Contact the Department of Health for more information.
Safe Harbor Designation of Caregivers for Medical Marijuana Patients in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, caregivers of patients who are incapacitated by disability, or under the age of 18 years, have special legal privileges. Caregivers are usually parents or legal guardians of minors, but they can also be a spouse or adult child who is caring for a senior who has chronic health conditions.
A patient may have up to two caregivers designated in the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program. The law (Act 16 of 2016) states that caregivers can obtain medication for patients who are cared for at home, and for minors under the age of 18.
The caregiver must be over the age of 21 years. The caregiver can be a legal guardian, spouse, parent, or someone who has been given legal responsibility to care for a homebound patient. For caregivers of patients under the age of 21 years, getting a Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Letter (MMSHL) provides additional legal rights. Caregivers with an MMSHL can, for instance, administer medical marijuana to their child on school property.
To get a Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Letter (MMSHL) caregivers must complete a criminal background check and provide an electronic copy of their caregiver status with PA medical marijuana program. Guardianship papers for children, or a copy of the marriage certificate for a spouse caregiver is required for the application. You can make the MMSHL application with the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
There is a $50 registration fee for caregivers. However, caregivers who are experiencing financial hardship can apply to have the fee waived by providing documentation. Pennsylvania medical marijuana caregivers who are registered, are provided legal protection. They cannot be charged with simple possession or possession with intent to deliver (PWID) when they are designated as a legal caregiver for a patient in PA.If you are a caregiver who was charged with simple possession, you may qualify for the ARD program with an expungement of your charge. However, individuals with felony charges cannot qualify as a caregiver. Contact the Pennsylvania Department of Health for more information.