Updated on May 4, 2021. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
If you live in Pennsylvania, you can get a medical card. There are a few steps involved. We’ll share each step on this resource page. Find out if you are eligible and how to apply to be a registered patient.
People eighteen years of age or older can get a medical card in PA. Once you are eighteen years or older, you don’t need parental consent. You can schedule your health evaluation and become a registered patient.
Parents of children who have a rare disease or health disorder can apply to be a caregiver. The caregiver has to be a parent or legal guardian and over twenty-one (21) years. Each patient can have two (2) designated caregivers. For more information on becoming a PA caregiver, visit the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program website.
Pennsylvania has twenty-five (25) qualifying health conditions. You must have already been diagnosed with a disease or chronic symptom on the list to be eligible to apply for your medical card.
Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy
Dyskinetic and Spastic Movement Disorders
Intractable Spasticity (caused by damage to the spinal cord)
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (including Colitis and Crohn’s)
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Severe Chronic/Intractable Pain
Sickle Cell Anemia
You will need to prove that you have been diagnosed with one of the conditions. The doctor who will complete your health check will ask for medical records. Most patients provide 1-2 years’ worth of information to the physician to review.
To apply, you’ll need photo identification. That could be a Pennsylvania Driver’s License or State Issued ID Card. Both must have your current address and cannot be a P.O. box.
After getting your doctor referral, the next step is to create a patient profile. Upload your certification letter and supporting documents and pay your fee. About a week later, you will receive your medical card in the mail.
Patients need to create their profile on the Patients & Caregivers Registry. It’s a confidential registration of all residents that have medical cards. No one outside the medical marijuana program and law enforcement can see registered patients.
A letter of referral from a doctor (Physicians Certification) will be uploaded to your profile when you create it. The registration fee costs $50. You will have to pay $50 annually to renew your Pennsylvania medical card.
People on support programs (CHIP, SNAP, WIC, PACE/PACENET, and Medicaid), and veterans and seniors, may qualify for a discount on registration and annual renewal fees.
On March 18, 2020, telemedicine became available in Pennsylvania. Doctors licensed under the Department of State’s Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs (BPOA) can provide them. It is a temporary measure during COVID-19.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf suspended restrictions to out-of-state healthcare providers. Doctors from other states can now provide telemedicine to patients in PA. Out of state physicians have to contact the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the BPOA to register.
Practitioners have to be in good standing with their state of residence. And meet other requirements to qualify. Pennsylvania is also part of the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact.
The details of Subsection 7301(c) of the Emergency Management Services Code, 35 Pa. C.S. §7101 were provided on March 5, 2020. A complete list of the legislative ‘waivers’ for practitioners that are in effect is available here.
Patients can get their health evaluation right at home. There is no need to head to a doctor’s office. If you have an internet connection and a laptop or a mobile device, you can get a Pennsylvania medical card 100% online. Speak with a doctor in a private video conference for your evaluation. If you meet all the requirements, you’ll be approved for your medical card.
Patients interested in getting a telemedicine evaluation can access it via a secure real-time, live-video connection. Click here to view available physicians in Pennsylvania. Then search for doctors that have the telemedicine option.
The cost of completing the marijuana card health evaluation in Pennsylvania varies by practitioner. You will be able to see how much an appointment with that doctor will cost. And then choose your physician.
Some dispensaries and doctors provide a discount for veterans, seniors, adults, and children in support programs like Medicaid or Social Security.
Pennsylvania dispensaries don’t always list the discount policies. Patients with a medical card should call to verify discounts. Health insurance does not cover the cost of medical assessments or registration fees.
You need your medical card to buy cannabis products from a dispensary. If you have lost your medical card, you should immediately report to the PA Medical Marijuana Program (DOH). You can request a replacement and pay the fee online through your patient portal.
The cost of the first replaced medical card is $25. After the first replacement, payments will have to pay $50.
In some states, it is legal for patients to grow their cannabis at home. However, it is not permitted in Pennsylvania. Only licensed commercial cultivators can grow it legally. Your medical card does not make it legal for you to grow marijuana at home.
However, in March 2021, Senator Dan Laughlin (R-Erie) became the first Senate Republican to call for federal legalization. Allowing adult-use (recreational) to be legalized in Pennsylvania. The proposed bill (in draft stage) would enable medical cardholders to grow up to five plants a home. There may be an additional licensing fee of $50 for patients wanting to grow their medical marijuana.
As a registered patient, you have legal protections. Medical cardholders can buy and travel within the state with cannabis. There are maximum amounts of cannabis that any patient may have in their possession. For updated information on the quantity of cannabis that a medical cardholder in Pennsylvania can possess, please visit the PA Medical Marijuana Program website.
A felony or misdemeanor offense won’t stop you from getting your medical card. As long as you have a qualifying health condition and a doctor referral. However, if your charge(s) are related to drug distribution or manufacturing crime, you may not qualify. This is also true for people who have had a violent crime incident involving cannabis or another drug.
Cannabis is still a federally prohibited drug. So, possession of a firearm or ammunition with marijuana is illegal. And control of a gun when using marijuana is also against the law.
The federal law 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(3) and 27 C.F.R. § 478.32(a)(3) regarding any combination of drugs and guns may not change anytime soon. Gun owners in all legalized states have to choose between a medical card or firearms. And that is also true in Pennsylvania.
Without a medical card, residents are not protected by law and can be charged for possession of cannabis in Pennsylvania. It is important to get your medical card and renew it to legally protect your right to use cannabis for your health conditions therapeutically.
Your evaluation is an important safety check. Cannabis is a controlled substance, and it can conflict with some medications. There are also mental health conditions like schizophrenia, where cannabis is not recommended.
If the marijuana doctor doesn’t approve you, then you can try another physician. If you are refused again, there is a process to appeal the decision directly with the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program.
Medical marijuana laws change often. Bookmark the DOH website for more resources and information. Or contact the PMMP for information and assistance.
Pennsylvania Department of Health
Phone: +1 (888) 733-5595
Website: Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program
Useful Resources for Pennsylvania Physicians
Doctors in Pennsylvania must be state-licensed and complete a mandatory four-hour training course. Doctors are required to register with the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program.