Medical Marijuana in Pennsylvania
On April 17, 2016, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed the Medical Marijuana Act into law. The new set of laws made Pennsylvania the 24th state in the U.S. to legalize medical cannabis. The Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program will be administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Under their review, the Program will grant licenses to growers, producers, sellers, doctors, and patients. Although the new laws technically went into effect in May 2016, it will take another 18 to 24 months before the Program is up and running. In the meantime, this article will cover everything you need to know about how to qualify for medical marijuana in PA. As soon as the Program is fully operational, you’ll be all set to get your medical marijuana card.
The Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program
Only PA residents with a qualifying health condition and a doctor’s recommendation can participate in the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program.
To find out if your condition qualifies, you need to schedule an appointment with a state licensed doctor. Your doctor will need to certify that you have a serious health condition and that you would benefit from the use of cannabis. Once you’ve got the doctor’s recommendation, you can apply to receive your medical marijuana identification card from the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
What conditions qualify for Medical Marijuana in Pennsylvania?
The list of health conditions that currently qualify for Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Program are:
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
- Crohn’s Disease
- Damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity
- HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) / AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)
- Huntington’s Disease
- Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome
- Intractable Seizures
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
- Severe chronic or intractable pain of neuropathic origin or severe chronic or intractable pain in which conventional therapeutic intervention and opiate therapy is contraindicated or ineffective
- Sickle Cell Anemia
Will additional conditions be added?
The Pennsylvania Department of Health may add more conditions to the list at any point in the future.
Where to find a Medical Marijuana Doctor in PA?
Before a doctor can give people recommendations for medical cannabis, she must register with the Department of Health, complete a four-hour course about medical cannabis, and report back to the Department on the status and progress of patients.
Because Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Program isn’t fully operational yet, there isn’t a full list of medical marijuana doctors available yet. But the Department of Health said it will explore ways to provide all necessary information on its website.
Where are the cannabis dispensaries in Pennsylvania?
Under the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program, the state will authorize up to 150 dispensaries across the state. Because the program is still being implemented, there isn’t a full list of dispensaries yet.
But as with the list of medical marijuana doctors, the Department of Health said it hopes to provide all necessary information on its website as soon as the Program is up and running.
What does my medical marijuana card get me at a Pennsylvania dispensary?
Once you have your medical marijuana card you’ll be able to purchase cannabis pills, oils, gels, creams, ointments, tinctures, liquids, and non-whole plant forms of cannabis that can be vaporized. Dispensaries will not be allowed to sell, and patients will not be allowed to buy, smokeable cannabis flowers.
Where can I smoke?
You technically won’t be allowed to smoke at all. Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Program only allows for non-smokable cannabis products and cannabis extracts.
Are patients and caregivers shielded from discrimination?
As soon as a patient has been given an official medical cannabis registration card, they and their caregiver will be protected from legal discrimination. With that said, employers will not be required to accommodate employees’ cannabis use while at work.
What is the future of the Medical Marijuana Program in Pennsylvania?
The biggest critiques people have with Pennsylvania’s new Medical Marijuana Program is that it still outlaws smokeable forms of cannabis. This could be one of the hot issues the Program will face as it moves forward. And judging by the way other states have begun expanding their lists of qualifying health conditions, it seems likely that PA will also find itself confronting the question of whether or not it will add new conditions to its list as well.