Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana

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What is Medical Marijuana in Pennsylvania?

Since the legalization of medical marijuana by the Medical Marijuana Act in Pennsylvania, qualified patients can now enjoy the benefits of using medical marijuana. To be eligible to use medical marijuana, they must be suffering from the qualified health conditions provided by the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program. Patients need to be under the continued care of a registered physician to purchase medical marijuana.

Scientists have found that active ingredients in medical cannabis like Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD) may alleviate associated symptoms of qualified health conditions. This ingredient may help with pain, nausea, muscle spasms, and other symptoms. A patient needs an MMJ card to purchase medical marijuana in Pennsylvania. To get an MMJ card, the patient will need a signed certification from their physician stating they have a severe health condition. They will use this to apply under the Medical Marijuana Program. The Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program is under the administration of the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Is Medical Marijuana Legal in Pennsylvania?

Yes. Pennsylvania's Medical Marijuana Act legalized and created a medical marijuana program (MMP) in the Commonwealth when it was signed by Governor Tom Wolf in April 2016. The legislation provided for Pennsylvanians with valid medical conditions to legally obtain and use medical marijuana. Furthermore, the Medical Marijuana Act authorized the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PADOH) to oversee the state's medical marijuana program.

Medical cannabis in Pennsylvania is available as pills, tinctures, liquids, gels, creams, ointments, oils, and concentrates. In April 2018, cannabis leaf was approved for use by qualified patients. Under the Pennsylvania medical marijuana program, registered patients may obtain up to 30-day supplies of medical marijuana products. A patient's certifying physician will dictate the amount that makes up a 30-day supply.

Who Can Get Medical Marijuana in Pennsylvania?

Any resident of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with a serious medical condition that has been certified by an approved healthcare practitioner may get medical marijuana. Healthcare practitioners will issue medical marijuana certifications to individuals verified to suffer from the following conditions:

  • Huntington's disease
  • Crohn's disease
  • Cancer, including remission therapy
  • Autism
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
  • Neuropathies
  • Intractable seizures
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Glaucoma
  • Epilepsy
  • Neurodegenerative diseases
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
  • Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
  • Damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Dyskinetic and spastic movement disorders
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Severe chronic or intractable pain including those characteristic of neuropathic origin
  • Tourette syndrome
  • Anxiety
  • Terminal illness
  • Opioid use disorders for which conventional therapeutic interventions are ineffective or contraindicated or for which adjunctive treatment is indicated in combination with primary therapeutic interventions

Can You Grow Medical Marijuana in Pennsylvania?

No. Growing marijuana at home, even for medical marijuana cardholders and caregivers, is illegal in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Regardless of your intention to sell or not, you are liable to be charged with up to five years imprisonment and up to $15,000 in fines if caught growing marijuana in the state. If you reside near a school, the penalties for growing marijuana are even steeper.

In January 2022, Senators Dan Laughlin and Sharif Street introduced SB 1024 in the Pennsylvania Senate, which proposes to permit registered patients, aged 21 or older, to grow up to six plants in enclosed and locked spaces. However, this bill has yet to be signed into law.

Do You Need to See a Doctor to Get Medical Marijuana in Pennsylvania?

In order to get medical marijuana in Pennsylvania, a patient must complete registration in the Pennsylvania medical marijuana registry. However, before a patient may complete registration in the medical marijuana registry, they must see a doctor who will approve and certify that they suffer from a qualifying medical condition. The physician's certification will be submitted directly to the registry. The physician will charge a consultation fee for the examination, which is not covered by insurance. Typical charges for the consultation fee range between $100 and $250.

Note that for a physician to be approved to issue medical marijuana certification in Pennsylvania, the healthcare provider must register with the state's Department of Health. Patients can find approved physicians under the Pennsylvania medical marijuana program using the Find a Practitioner link on the PADOH website.

Can a Minor Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Pennsylvania?

No. Minors (residents under 18) are not issued medical marijuana cards in Pennsylvania. However, they can still get medical marijuana with the help of caregivers. Before designating a caregiver, a minor must obtain certification for a qualifying medical condition from an approved physician in Pennsylvania. However, a minor's registration under the Pennsylvania medical marijuana program must be completed by their caregiver. All minors living with qualifying conditions are required to have caregivers. A minor's caregiver is typically the parent, legal guardian, or a third party who has been approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PADOH).

How to Apply for a Medical Marijuana Card in Pennsylvania

To obtain a medical marijuana card in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, you must be 18 or older and included in the Department of Health's patient and caregiver registry. Therefore, the first step in obtaining a medical marijuana card in Pennsylvania is registering with the Pennsylvania medical marijuana program (PMMP) through the Department of Health website. You must create a profile in the medical marijuana registry to begin the application process. If you are not a minor or home-bound patient, you will need a valid Pennsylvania driver's license or state-issued identification showing your current address.

Next, consult with an approved physician to obtain certification that you suffer from one of the qualifying conditions for medical marijuana. The certification will be submitted online by the physician. Upon receiving a certification from the physician, return to the Pennsylvania medical marijuana registry to pay the fee for the medical marijuana card and submit the application. Wait for 7 days after submission to receive a digital copy of the card you can print and then 14 days for the card to arrive in the mail. The medical marijuana card will be mailed to the addresses listed on your patient profile.

For more information on obtaining medical marijuana cards in Pennsylvania, contact:

Pennsylvania Department of Health

Office of Medical Marijuana

625 Forster Street

Health & Welfare Building

Room 628

Harrisburg, PA 17120

Phone: (717) 547-3047

Email: RA-DHMedMarijuana@pa.gov

Does Ohio Allow Medical Marijuana Patients to Designate Caregivers?

Yes. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania permits minors, home-bound adult patients, and adult patients who benefit from assistance to designate caregivers to assist in obtaining and administering medical marijuana. Pennsylvanians in these categories are not issued medical marijuana cards but may use medical marijuana products with the help of caregivers. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania also permits adult patients with medical marijuana cards to designate caregivers by sharing their patient ID numbers with the caregivers when the caregivers register with the state's medical marijuana program.

Pennsylvania considers a caregiver as an individual who must be aged 21 or older, unless approved otherwise by the PADOH, who assists a medical marijuana patient to procure and administer medical marijuana, and is:

  • Designated by a qualified patient
  • A parent, legal guardian or spouse of a patient under 18 or
  • Designated to be a caregiver by a parent, legal guardian or spouse

Caregivers must register with the PADOH and complete criminal background checks before approval. Persons who have been convicted of criminal offenses pertaining to the possession or sale of narcotics, drugs, or controlled substances in the preceding 5 years cannot be designated as caregivers. A qualified patient may designate up to two caregivers, while a caregiver can assist up to five patients in Pennsylvania.

What Is the Cost of a Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Card?

A Pennsylvania medical marijuana card costs $50. However, patients who have enrolled in assistance programs, such as CHIP, SNAP, WIC, PACE/PACENET, and Medicaid, may be eligible for fee waivers upon providing proof of enrolling in such programs. Patients who are registered with these programs will not be required to pay to obtain medical marijuana cards. Patients who are ineligible for such waivers may pay the applicable fees using MasterCard, Visa, and Discover credit or debit cards via the Pennsylvania medical marijuana registry. The medical marijuana card fee is paid once every year regardless of the number of certifications issued to the patient.

What Do You Need When Visiting a Medical Marijuana Dispensary in Pennsylvania?

When visiting approved medical marijuana dispensaries in Pennsylvania, take your valid State of Pennsylvania-issued identification card and your medical marijuana card along. You should also take cash or use the ATM available on-site as some dispensaries do not accept payments for medical marijuana products made by credit cards. Note that some medical marijuana dispensaries require making an appointment before a first visit.

How to Renew Your Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Card

You no longer need to renew your medical marijuana card to continue using medical marijuana in Pennsylvania. You only need to renew the medical marijuana certification obtained from a verified healthcare professional. Sixty days before the expiration date on your patient certification, the Pennsylvania Department of Health will send you an electronic mail notifying you of the need to obtain a new patient certification. You may get a certification from any health care practitioner registered under the Pennsylvania medical marijuana program. The PMMP does not require that you obtain the new patient certification from the same physician who issued the initial certification.

Once the physician issues you a medical marijuana certification and you have paid the annual registration fee ($50 for regular cardholders), a new medical marijuana card will be printed and mailed to the address listed under the profile in your account on the portal. You may then log in to the portal to access your new card. Note that you will receive a reminder notification by email 30 days before the due date of your annual registration payment with instructions on how to pay the annual fee.

Is it Possible to Overdose on Cannabis in Pennsylvania?

Yes, smoking or other means of taking medical marijuana can lead to an overdose. Although, the individual may get paranoid, sick, or experience other side effects. However, there is yet to be any recorded case of fatal overdose from only cannabis in Pennsylvania.

Cannabis contains different clinical compounds and cannabinoid (CBD) elements, the most prominent being delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is responsible for intoxication, high feeling, and it may also impair the user's cognitive ability. Overdosing on this particular compound has side effects and may manifest in different ways depending on the individual. For instance, children may experience sleepiness, euphoria, irritability, changes in behavior, or slurred speech. While adults adolescents, and adults may experience the following:

  • Tachycardia
  • Increased blood pressure or, especially in the elderly,
  • Orthostatic hypotension
  • Increased respiratory rate
  • Conjunctival injection (red eye)
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased appetite
  • Nystagmus
  • Ataxia
  • Slurred speech
  • Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS) causes severe vomiting and abdominal pain.
  • Marijuana-Induced Psychosis(MIP).

If I am Pregnant, Can I Use Cannabis to Relieve Nausea in Pennsylvania?

No, the use of cannabis during pregnancy poses a health risk to the baby and the mother. A pregnant woman should not use cannabis, either by smoking it, inhaling it, or via other means. Although the Medical Marijuana Act of Pennsylvania recognizes treatment of nausea with medical marijuana, it does not cover treatment of nausea suffered by pregnant women. The active ingredient in marijuana, especially delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), may easily pass through the placenta, inducing various physiological effects in the baby's development. It is because THC acts as an indirect stressor to cause distress. When the mother uses marijuana, the THC molecule is highly lipophilic and will be distributed rapidly in the brain and fat of the fetus. THC concentration may make up to approximately one-third to one-tenth of the maternal concentration. Marijuana generally enhances the placental barrier susceptible to other pharmacology and recreational substances, posing many health risks for the unborn child.

Using marijuana during pregnancy will have some neonatal outcomes, such as

  • Birth weight,
  • Preterm delivery,
  • Admission to a NICU,
  • Stillbirth,
  • Spontaneous abortion,
  • Apgar scores,
  • Placental abruption
  • Perinatal death.

As it is now, there is yet to be a standard formulation to use marijuana by a pregnant woman. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is also yet to recommend an approved delivery system or recommendation for pregnant women. Also, there is no standard regulation for the use of marijuana by pregnant women, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Therefore, it is recommended that pregnant women consult with their OB/GYN for an alternative treatment to alleviate their pregnancy sickness.

Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana