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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT PENNSYLVANIA MEDICAL MARIJUANA LAWS

The State of Pennsylvania's medical marijuana program officially launched on February 15, 2018. As the program continues to roll out, patients and caregivers alike have many questions about the rules, regulations, and participation guidelines. In the interest of helping connect more patients with the medicine they need, 420EDx compiled this list of frequently asked questions to make navigating Pennsylvania's medical marijuana program a straightforward task.


Who is eligible for medical marijuana under Pennsylvania's medical marijuana laws?

Under Pennsylvania's medical marijuana program, state residents who have a serious medical condition as certified by an approved physician are considered medical marijuana patients. Prior to applying for a medical marijuana ID card, patients must register for the program through the state's Medical Marijuana Registry and schedule an appointment with an approved physician for an examination to determine whether medical marijuana is an appropriate course of treatment for their conditions.


How can I find an approved physician under Pennsylvania's medical marijuana laws?

The state Department of Health maintains a non-exhaustive list of approved medical marijuana doctors in PA. The list is periodically updated, but patients and caregivers have access to a more consistently updated version through the patient portal on the state’s Patient and Caregiver Registry. The publicly available list is published on the Pennsylvania Department of Health's website. Approved physicians must issue patients a patient certification prior to the patient’s participation in the state's medical marijuana program.


What is a patient certification?

A patient certification is a document issued by a Department of Health-approved medical practitioner under Pennsylvania's medical marijuana program. The patient certification attests that a patient suffers from one of the 21 medical conditions included under state law and that medical marijuana is a suitable treatment option. A patient certification is required for participation within the program.


What conditions does Pennsylvania's medical marijuana program cover?

As of January 2019, Pennsylvania's medical marijuana program covers 21 serious health conditions. These include:

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS – Lou Gherig’s Disease)

  • Autism

  • Cancer, including remission therapy

  • Crohn’s disease

  • Damage to the nervous tissue of the central nervous system (brain-spinal cord) with 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

  • Opioid use disorder when conventional therapeutic interventions are contraindicated or ineffective, or for use with other primary therapeutic intervention

  • Parkinson’s disease

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

  • Severe chronic or intractable pain, of neuropathic origin and general

  • Sickle cell anemia

  • Terminal illness

For more details, visit the State of Pennsylvania's website for a complete guide on which conditions are covered.


How do I get a medical marijuana card in Pennsylvania?

Once a patient is registered with the state's Medical Marijuana Registry and recommended for medical marijuana by an approved physician, the patient must pay for a medical marijuana ID card. These cards avail patients and their registered caregivers to the products available in Pennsylvania-based medical marijuana dispensaries.​


How much does a Pennsylvania medical marijuana ID card cost?

Pennsylvania medical marijuana laws state that once a patient is approved for a medical marijuana ID card from an approved physician (visits usually cost between $200-$300 and are not covered by insurance), patients must pay a $50 fee to receive their card. Patients who participate in assistance programs like Medicaid, SNAP, CHIP, and WIC could be eligible for fee reductions. Once a patient receives an ID card, they are permitted to purchase medical marijuana from any dispensary in the state. Visit Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana website for more information.


How do I renew my medical marijuana card in Pennsylvania?

Renewal of patient certifications and medical marijuana ID cards occur once every 12 months. Patients will be notified by the state Department of Health to renew their registrations 60 days prior to the expiration date of a patient certification and medical marijuana ID card. Patients must log into their patient account to renew their registration and then schedule an appointment with an approved physician to obtain an updated patient certification. Once re-certified, a new medical marijuana ID card will be printed and mailed to renewing patients. The $50 fee must be paid during each renewal.


What happens if my medical marijuana ID card is lost or stolen?

If a patient loses their medical marijuana ID card, first-time replacement cards can be ordered for a $25 fee. Each additional replacement card beyond the first replacement will cost the patient $50. Once a lost card is reported and a new one is ordered, the old card will be deactivated and will no longer work. Patients in need of a replacement ID card should email the state Department of Health at RA-HDMedMarijuana@pa.gov.


How do I get medical marijuana in Pennsylvania?

The state Department of Health maintains a list of active medical marijuana dispensaries throughout the state. These can be located on the state Department of Health's website.


What types of medical marijuana are available in Pennsylvania?

There are a variety of medical marijuana products available to certified patients under the state's medical marijuana program. These include pills; oils; topicals, including gels, creams, and ointments; tinctures; liquids; and a form medically appropriate for administration by vaporizer or nebulizer, including dry leaf or plant form.


How can I register as a caregiver under the medical marijuana program?

Caregivers are designated by medical marijuana patients to deliver their medical marijuana to them. Potential caregivers must register with the State of Pennsylvania for an ID card, as well as complete a background check prior to receiving caregiver status. Caregivers must also be Pennsylvania residents. To apply for caregiver status, register with the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Caregivers are required to register on behalf of participating minors under the age of 18.


Can I register as a caregiver for a non-family member?

Once certified, adult patients can designate anyone as their caregiver. Caregivers are required to complete a background check and provide documentation that proves their Pennsylvania residency prior to being approved for caregiver status. Caregivers for minors that are not the patient's parent, legal guardian, or spouse are required to register as a third-party caregiver, which requires that completion of an additional "authorization to designate third-party caregiver form" in addition to the normal caregiver registration process.


How many patients can a caregiver assist?

Caregivers are eligible to provide care for up to five patients.

Can I use my Pennsylvania medical marijuana card in other states?

Whether you can use your Pennsylvania-issued medical marijuana ID card in other states depends on the laws of the state you are in, as well as the discretion of the medical marijuana dispensary you are visiting. Under Pennsylvania medical marijuana laws, only state residents are eligible to purchase medical marijuana at an approved dispensary.

I’m traveling from out of state. Can I use my medical marijuana card in Pennsylvania?

No. Only Pennsylvania residents are permitted to purchase medical marijuana under Pennsylvania medical marijuana laws.  

How much medical marijuana can I possess at any given time?

Lawful possession of medical marijuana under Pennsylvania medical marijuana laws is limited to 30 days' worth of a patient's recommended daily supply. For example, if your recommended daily supply is one gram per day, then 30 grams per day is your limit for lawful possession.

Are there any medical marijuana purchase limits in Pennsylvania?

There are no limits on volume purchases under Pennsylvania medical marijuana laws. However, lawful possession of medical marijuana is limited to a 30-day supply.

I am a medical marijuana patient, but I could be drug tested at work. What should I do?

While we cannot offer individual legal advice, Pennsylvania medical marijuana laws state you cannot be fired or discriminated against in your workplace due to your status as a certified medical marijuana patient. However, the law does not address which roles within an organization could be subject to additional scrutiny by an employer, giving employers broad discretion in determining what workplace tasks could be restricted to medical marijuana patients. Further, the law does not address whether employers can discriminate against medical marijuana patients in pre-employment drug screenings.

What’s the difference between CBD in a medical marijuana dispensary and CBD I buy outside a dispensary?

Products containing CBD that appear in a medical marijuana dispensary are tightly controlled and regulated under state medical marijuana laws. They are derived from cannabis plants cultivated under the purview of the medical marijuana program. These products are required to go through meticulous testing and quality assurance. They cannot be sold outside Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program. CBD products purchased over the counter are derived from industrial hemp, which is legally defined as a cannabis plant bred to contain .03% or less THC.