Twenty one serious medical conditions currently are recognized under the law as ones that may be treated with medical marijuana. These conditions are the following:
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- 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
- Dyskinetic and spastic movement disorders
- Neurodegenerative diseases
- Opioid use disorder for which conventional therapeutic interventions are contraindicated or ineffective, or for which adjunctive therapy is indicated in combination with primary therapeutic interventions
- Terminal illness
You must first create a patient profile in the PA Department of Health’s patient registry at www.medicalmarijuana.pa.gov. Then, make an appointment with your trained approved physician who can certify you as eligible for medical marijuana based upon your qualifying condition. The Department of Health will then issue you by mail a photo identification card, at a cost of $50, and you can then secure medical marijuana from a special “store” known as a dispensary. To find a dispensary, go to www.pa.gov/guides/pennsylvania-medical-marijuana-program
The fee for the card is $50 but individuals on Medicaid, PACE/PACENET, CHIP, SNAP and WIC may qualify for a discount.
You can obtain pills, oils, topical creams, liquids, or a form that can be vaporized or nebulized. Smoking medical marijuana is not permitted under the law.
Doctors must undergo a four-hour training to be certified as someone who can help someone obtain medical marijuana. The list of participating doctors who can issue you the necessary certification to obtain an ID card is listed on the PA Department of Health website here. You may also call your current family doctor or specialist and ask if he or she is certified.
Medical marijuana will not be available at a regular drug store or pharmacy. You must obtain your medical marijuana at a specialized store called a “dispensary,” where a pharmacist, physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant is always on staff. The list of dispensaries are found here.
Dispensaries are not permitted to advertise by cost. However, you can call each dispensary for a price list.
Patients are not required to obtain a criminal background check. Caregivers, however, must, and their criminal history will be subject to review.
Insurers are not required by law to provide coverage for medical marijuana, so patients must pay out-of-pocket. If the price seems unreasonable or excessive, the law allows the Departments of Revenue and Health to issue temporary price caps.
Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia now permit the use of medical marijuana for everything from chronic pain and nausea to anxiety and chemotherapy-related vomiting. Still, with your ID card, you must use a dispensary located in the Commonwealth
Under current PA law, you are not permitted to make edibles from your medical marijuana. However, you are permitted to mix it with food in order to ingest it more easily.
Recovery experts have varying opinions on the use of medical marijuana by patients in recovery. Because you are never totally “cured” of an addiction, those patients who desire to use medical marijuana should check with their doctor and recovery expert first, and mention their prior history. They should also consult reputable sources like the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the American Society of American Medicine for advice. If they decide to try medical marijuana, patients may be advised to bolster their recovery program to mitigate the threat of relapse. They may be advised to attend more support group meetings, such as AA or NA. Until further clinical studies are completed, patients in recovery are urged to be informed and cautious. Doctors also say that in cases where the patient has a history of substance abuse but is near death, the primary focus is on keeping them comfortable and not on reigning in an addiction.
Visit to the PA Department of Health website at www.pa.gov/guides/pennsylvania-medical-marijuana-program.
– PATIENTS –