How to get a medical marijuana card in Pennsylvania

What is an MMJ Card in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, individuals dealing with debilitating physical or mental conditions can apply to the Pennsylvania Department of Health for medical marijuana cards. Per Pennsylvania's Medical Marijuana Act, these state-issued licenses allow their bearers to buy, possess, and consume medical marijuana within Pennsylvania's jurisdiction. Patients may only use pills, oils, gels, creams, ointments, tinctures, liquid, and dry herbs for vaporizing.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health issues medical marijuana cards to patients and caregivers. The Department processes MMJ cards for issuance and also gives licenses to caregivers, dispensaries, and micro growers.

Who Can Apply for an MMJ Card in Pennsylvania?

The Pennsylvania Department of Health allows adults, 21 years old and older, with medical conditions on the approved list to apply for medical marijuana cards. Applicants must be Pennsylvania residents and obtain a certification from a Pennsylvania-certified doctor. Eligible requesters must note that the Department of Health may still deny their application if they do not correctly complete their applications or provide accurate information.

Can a Minor Obtain a Medical Marijuana Card in Pennsylvania?

Although Pennsylvania minors with qualifying diagnoses may obtain medical marijuana, they cannot get medical marijuana cards. Minors may, however, get medical cannabis through registered caregivers, who can apply for medical marijuana cards on the child's behalf. As with adults, minors must obtain a doctor's recommendation before their caregiver can get an MMJ card.

What Conditions Qualify for Medical Marijuana Cards in Pennsylvania?

Although Pennsylvania has legalized medical marijuana, individuals may not apply to get medical marijuana cards for every health condition they wish to treat. This knowledge is essential to have if you moved to Pennsylvania from another state as the qualifying health conditions there may not be in line with Pennsylvania laws, leading to application rejection. Pennsylvania's Medical Marijuana Act allows adults to apply for medical cannabis cards if they are dealing with any of the following life-threatening medical conditions:

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS);
  • Anxiety disorders;
  • Autism;
  • Cancer, including remission therapy;
  • Crohn's disease;
  • Damage to the nervous tissue of the central nervous system (brain-spinal cord) with an objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity and other associated neuropathies;
  • Dyskinetic and spastic movement disorders;
  • Epilepsy;
  • Glaucoma;
  • HIV / AIDS;
  • Huntington's disease;
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD);
  • Intractable seizures;
  • Multiple sclerosis(MS);
  • Neurodegenerative diseases;
  • Neuropathies;
  • Therapy-resistant opioid use disorders;
  • Parkinson's disease;
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD);
  • Severe chronic or intractable pain of neuropathic origin or severe chronic or intractable pain;
  • Sickle cell anemia;
  • Terminal illness;
  • Tourette syndrome.

How Do I Apply for an MMJ Card in Pennsylvania?

Anyone who wishes to apply for a Pennsylvania medical marijuana card should follow the three steps:

  • Create an account on the Medical Marijuana Registry. Anyone in Pennsylvania that wishes to get a medical marijuana card must create an account on the Registry. Registration includes standard information like first and last names, home or work addresses, and other contact details. Registrants must possess a valid Pennsylvania driver's license or a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation-issued ID card.
  • Get an approved physician's certification. Once registered, requesters must visit an authorized physician who will certify that they are suffering from one of the qualifying medical conditions. These physicians - being state-approved - can access the Medical Marijuana Registry and submit their certifications directly. Therefore, ensure you go to an approved physician for accreditation.
  • Pay for a medical marijuana ID card. After obtaining an approved physician's certification, return to the Medical Marijuana Registry and pay for the medical marijuana ID card to complete the application. Medical marijuana cards cost $50 and are eligible for renewals annually.

How does a Primary Caregiver get a Pennsylvania MMIC?

According to the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act, a primary caregiver is anyone that is allowed to visit a dispensary and purchase medical cannabis on a patient's behalf. A caregiver may be:

  • Patient-designated (if the patient is an adult);
  • A parent or legal guardian of an underage patient;
  • A person that a parent, legal guardian, or spouse designates to be a caregiver.

All minors must, by law, have caregivers. Patients may have up to two caregivers, while caregivers may take care of up to five medical marijuana patients.

For a primary caregiver to get a Pennsylvania MMIC, they must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 21 years old. Persons under 21 years of age may be considered as caregivers if they send a special request email to the Department of Health and explain their relationship to the patient.

  • Be a resident of Pennsylvania.

  • Have a valid Pennsylvania-issued driver's license or a state-issued ID card (with a current address).

  • Complete a criminal history background check and have no past convictions - in the last five years - relating to narcotic or drug possession and sales.

Before getting an MMIC, a primary caregiver must register on the Patient and Caregiver Registry - either as a caregiver for an existing patient or a new patient.

To register as an existing patient's caregiver, the applicant must have the patient's name as it appears in the registry, the patient's ID number, and date of birth. Registrants should navigate to the "Caregivers" section and select "Adult Patient Caregiver Registration" if the patient is above 18 years old and has a patient ID to visit a dispensary. If the registered patient is a minor, needs support at home, or has a disability that requires assistance, the caregiver must select "Caregiver registering for an existing patient." Once in the necessary section, the registrant must fill out the required information and then register to create a profile. Note that patients and caregivers cannot use the same email address.

The registrant will receive an email with instructions on completing a background check. Once completed, there is a four-six-week waiting period for the application to receive approval. Once the registrant receives an approval email, they may revisit the Patient and Caregiver Registry to pay for their medical marijuana card.

A caregiver who is registering on behalf of a new patient who is a minor, a disabled individual, or a person who requires in-home support should navigate to the "Caregivers" section in the Patient and Caregiver Registry and select "Caregiver Registering for a New Patient." The process going forward is the same as previously explained.

Note that anyone offering caregiver services for a child or a person that requires assistance must receive a designation from the child's parent, the child's legal guardian, or the patient's legal partner. To show proof of appointment, the applicant must complete an "authorization to designate a third-party caregiver' form, downloadable from the caregiver profile page.

How long does it take to get a Pennsylvania MMIC?

It typically takes 21 days - 7 days for printing from the payment date and 14 days to receive it in the mail. Caregivers must also wait 4-6 weeks for their background check and approval process before paying for and receiving their cards.

If a patient or caregiver waits for more than three weeks after paying for a card, they may request a new one (at no charge) by navigating to the 'Profile Settings' tab of their account.

Getting a Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Card Online

The only way to get a Pennsylvania medical marijuana card is by submitting an online application to the Medical Marijuana Registry.

How Much Does a Medical Marijuana Card Cost in Pennsylvania?

It costs $50 to obtain or renew a medical marijuana card in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Department of Health offers fee reductions to people engaged in assistance programs like

  • Medicaid;
  • Pharmaceutical Assistance Contract for the Elderly (PACE) or Pharmaceutical Assistance Contract for The Elderly Needs Enhancement Tier (PACENET);
  • Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP);
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP);
  • The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and ChildrenWIC.

How Do I Renew My Medical Marijuana Card in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania medical marijuana identification cardholders receive renewal notification emails from the Department of Health sixty days before their cards expire. To renew, you can log into your existing patient account and click "profile settings'' from the blue ribbon at the top of the page. On the profile page, review and update your details, ensuring that the information matches your Pennsylvania driver's license or state-issued ID. Once you have completed the review process, save your changes and click "Renew my registration."

Once you complete the online renewal, the Department of Health will send a verification email with the next steps. You will need to obtain a new patient certification from an authorized practitioner. You do not need to go back to the doctor that issued your initial patient certification. Once the doctor submits the certification, the DOH will print a new card and mail it to the address listed on the portal.

What Documents Do I Need to Apply for a Medical Cannabis Card in Pennsylvania?

To apply for a medical cannabis card in Pennsylvania, the only document required is proof of identity. Acceptable forms of identification include a Pennsylvania driver's license and any valid state-issued ID card.

Are my Details Kept Confidential When I Apply for a Medical Marijuana Card in Pennsylvania?

Yes, per the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act(HIPAA), the Pennsylvania Department of Health does not use, maintain, or disseminate personal information belonging to individuals registered on the Medical Marijuana Program.

HIPAA was passed in 1996 as the national standard for protecting sensitive medical details. Per the act, the information in a patient's medical file is confidential, and members of the public cannot access it without the patient's consent.

What information appears on a Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Card?

In Pennsylvania, the information contained in a medical marijuana card include:

  • The cardholder's unique 9-digit user identification number ;
  • The cardholder's photograph;
  • The identification card's issuance and expiry date;
  • "Patient" or "Primary Caregiver" to designate the cardholder's status.

Can someone Track me Down through the Pennsylvania Registry?

No, nobody can track you down on the Pennsylvania Registry. The Pennsylvania Department of Health maintains strict confidentiality about patient and caregiver information. Therefore, it does not allow anyone to access the registry.

Pennsylvania Marijuana MMJ Card