Unlocking the Healing Power: A 3-Step Guide to Getting a Medical Marijuana Card in Pennsylvania

Marijuana products are displayed at Beyond/Hello, Center City Philadelphia's first medical marijuana dispensary. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

By Ashley Adams

April 18, 2023

While repeated efforts to legalize recreational cannabis have stalled, medical marijuana is legal in Pennsylvania with a medical ID card you can get through the state’s Medical Marijuana Program.

In February 2018, medical marijuana became available for Pennsylvania patients at dispensaries across the state after former Gov. Tom Wolf legalized it in 2016, providing long-overdue relief to people with serious medical conditions.

Due to continued opposition from Republicans in the state legislature, the sale of recreational  marijuana remains illegal in the commonwealth. Since 2021, state lawmakers—including a few Republicans—have introduced three bills proposing the legalization of adult-use marijuana. None of the bills made it out of committee.

Recreational marijuana is now legal in 19 states as well as Washington, D.C. Pennsylvania could be feeling the pressure to keep up with neighboring states such as Maryland, New York, and New Jersey, who continue to legalize recreational adult-use cannabis and establish private markets. In neighboring Delaware, the General Assembly passed two bills last month that would legalize marijuana in the state, but Gov. John Carney has yet to sign off. Carney vetoed a similar bill last year. Ohio is expected to have cannabis on the ballot again this year after a ballot measure was blocked in 2022.  

As long as you have a valid medical ID card and are registered with Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Program, it’s legal to possess and consume medical marijuana in Pennsylvania. Medical marijuana may only be consumed in homes or private residences. Patients and caregivers can transport medical marijuana in a closed, sealed container stored out of reach but only within state lines. Growing your own — even for medicinal purposes — remains illegal. 

Here are the three steps to follow to obtain a medical marijuana card in Pennsylvania:

Get Registered

The first step to getting your medical marijuana card in Pennsylvania is to register. You’ll have to create a profile in the Medical Marijuana Registry. Your profile includes basic information such as your name, address, and contact numbers. You must have a Pennsylvania driver’s license or ID card to register.

Get Certified by a Physician

After registering, the next step is to have an approved physician certify that you suffer from a qualifying medical condition. To find an approved physician for certification, click here.

You must suffer from one of the following medical conditions to qualify for a medical marijuana card:

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Anxiety disorders
  • 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
  • Intractable seizures
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Neurodegenerative diseases
  • Neuropathies
  • Opioid use disorder for which conventional therapeutic interventions are contraindicated or ineffective
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Severe chronic or intractable pain of neuropathic origin or severe chronic or intractable pain
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Terminal illness
  • Tourette syndrome

Pay for Your Card

Once you’ve been certified by an approved physician, you’ll need to return to the Medical Marijuana Registry and pay for your medical marijuana ID card. The cost is $50. 

The medical marijuana ID card takes 7 days to print from the date you paid for your ID card and 14 days to receive it in the mail. Your card will be mailed to the address in your patient profile.

How to Find a Dispensary

Once you receive your ID card, you can go to a dispensary and purchase medical marijuana. Click here for a list of dispensaries in the commonwealth.

Author

  • Ashley Adams

    In her 16 years in the communications industry, Ashley Adams has worn many hats, including news reporter, public relations writer, marketing specialist, copy editor and technical writer. Ashley grew up in Berks County and has since returned to her roots to raise her three children.

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