A lot can change in a short amount of time. It seemed like it was only yesterday when marijuana was considered a non-starter in the larger mainstream conversation. But now, many states are beginning to legalize marijuana for either medical or recreational use.
In February of 2018, Pennsylvania followed this trend by legalizing the use of medical marijuana. Ever since, cities throughout the Commonwealth have seen dispensaries pop up to cater to people who’ve been prescribed a form of cannabis due to a qualifying medical condition, as determined by a certified medical professional.
Here are the four specific steps that you must first take in order to get your medical marijuana card in Pennsylvania.
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The 4 steps to getting your medical marijuana card in Pennsylvania
First, you must go on the Pennsylvania Department of Health website to sign up for the state’s medical marijuana registry at www.pa.gov/guides/pennsylvania-medical-marijuana-program. This will help the process of creating a card that can be presented at dispensaries.
2. Get certified by a physician
The next step is to make an appointment with a physician who can certify that you are suffering from a qualifying condition where medical marijuana could be used as part of the treatment. Some illnesses that will generally qualify are certain types of cancer, including remission therapy, glaucoma, MS, extreme nerve damage, HIV/AIDS, neurodegenerative diseases, weaning off of opioid addiction, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, autism, PTSD, epilepsy, to name a few.
A full list of approved physicians with the Pennsylvania Department of Health, who are licensed to prescribe medical marijuana, can be found at health.pa.gov.
3. Pay for a medical marijuana ID card
Once you are approved, you will need to pay a $50 fee in order to receive your medical marijuana ID card, paid directly to the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Once you have received your card, it will be good for one year, after which it will need to be renewed through the registry for another year.
4. Find a dispensary close to home
Once you have your official ID card, the final step is to find a dispensary. As of now, there are more than 50 dispensaries in the city of Philadelphia. To find the one nearest to you, check the Pennsylvania Department of Health website at health.pa.gov.
For first-time dispensary visitors, there are some things you should know before walking through the door. One thing that sets PA dispensaries apart is that each one is required to have a medical professional on-site at all times. This is convenient for most patients, as they can schedule an appointment ahead of time with these professionals in order to go over which forms of cannabis are best for their specific symptoms.
Many of these dispensaries will require you to present a form of government ID to enter the building, along with your medical marijuana card. Anyone who is a non-patient or a non-caregiver must wait outside. On top of that, many dispensaries are cash only. So, make sure to plan ahead.