Dec 30 2020 - 3 Min Read

How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Pennsylvania

Getting a medical marijuana card in Pennsylvania requires a four-step process that sounds simple—and it basically is—but it can be helpful to be aware of some common issues so that you can avoid them.

How to get a medical card in Pennsylvania
A Medical Marijuana Patient buying cannabis at RISE Dispensaries Duncansville

An expert shares her tips that make getting an MMJ card easier.

Once you have a medical marijuana card, you have access to hundreds of products that can potentially help relieve pain, reduce anxiety, and improve symptoms of a number of chronic and sometimes debilitating conditions. You’ve just got to get that card in hand—and we can help.

Getting a medical marijuana card in Pennsylvania requires a four-step process that sounds simple—and it basically is—but it can be helpful to be aware of some common issues so that you can avoid them.

Alex Adams, a community outreach specialist for RISE Dispensaries, with 13 locations in Pennsylvania, is happy to talk new patients through the process and offer expert advice for the smoothest journey from potential medical marijuana patient to MMJ card holder.

“Sometimes people find the registration process a bit tricky, but we have navigated a lot of these hiccups, and can help potential new patients avoid them.”

Read on for a step-by-step guide and her best advice.

How to get a medical marijuana card in Pennsylvania
RISE Dispensaries in Pennsylvania can help you find how to get a PA medical card.
Alex Adams, a community outreach specialist for RISE.
RISE Dispensary employees in Pennsylvania can help you use your medical marijuana card.

Questions about getting a medical marijuana card in PA? We can help.

1. Register as a medical marijuana patient.

The first step is to register as a medical marijuana patient with the Pennsylvania Department of Health. You’ll need a driver’s license or state-issued photo ID, and to be 18 years old. Caregivers buying medical cannabis for someone else, including a minor, must register and must complete a criminal background check. For patients themselves, a criminal background—even involving a felony—is not disqualifying.

Expert tips:

  • Some people have found the government site difficult to use. For the most expedited process, Adams recommends visiting a medical marijuana certification clinic, where you can apply, see a doctor and pay your fee all in one go.
  • Make note of your registration log-in information and password. You’ll need it again, to pay your fee, and annually to update your records.
Medical Marijuana Flower
Flower is one form of medical marijuana available in Pennsylvania.

2. See a physician to be certified for the medical marijuana program.

To buy medical cannabis, you need a certification from a doctor that you have an approved condition. You can’t see just any doctor, though; certifying physicians need to register with the health department and undergo special training. The health department has a list of approved practitioners online, and many of them will do virtual appointments. The certifying physician likely will contact your primary care physician for medical records. You’ll need to see a doctor once a year for recertification, but it doesn’t have to be the same doctor from year to year.

Expert tip:

  • Most certifying physicians charge a $150 to $200 fee for the certification, which is not covered by insurance. Because visits can be done virtually, Adams encourages people to shop around; you can see any cannabis doctor in Pennsylvania, so look for the best price.

3. Pay a $50 state fee.

To keep your medical marijuana card active, you’ll have to pay $50 to the state every year. Those who qualify for government assistance, such as Medicaid, pay a reduced fee of $25. After you’re certified by a doctor, you return to the registration site to pay. Again, this is not covered by insurance.

Expert tip:

  • To buy cannabis, you’ll need to have paid your annual fee in the last 365 days. Sometimes, the expiration date printed on the card is past this time period, so even though the card appears to still be active, it won’t work when the pharmacist enters your information, Adams says. It’s helpful to note the date you paid your fee so you can avoid this.

4. Receive your MMJ card in the mail and visit a dispensary.

Your PA medical card will look just like a driver’s license, and it will even bear the same photo of you. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, cards arrived in the mail three to five days after the fee was paid, but this year, the wait has sometimes been up to three weeks, Adams says.

PA Medical Marijuana dispensary RISE
RISE Duncansville, PA Staff

Expert tips:

  • You cannot enter a dispensary in Pennsylvania without an active medical marijuana card in hand. But if you have questions or need help with the process, you always can call your local RISE Dispensary for guidance.
  • Once you’re a patient, you can consult with a RISE pharmacist at the dispensary about products that might help you and how to consume them.
  • Unfortunately, you can’t use insurance benefits to buy cannabis products, but RISE does offer a 10 percent discount to patients who qualify for government assistance and other programs.
  • Once you have your cannabis in hand, make sure you stay on the right side of the law: Don’t use cannabis in public or while operating a motor vehicle, don’t share it with others, and know your employer’s drug-testing policy to make sure you are protected.

A final expert tip: Don’t be afraid to ask questions, whether you’re trying to get your medical marijuana card or figure out what to do now that you have it. At RISE, a licensed pharmacist is ready to help you access cannabis as medicine and excited to talk to you about improving your health.

Find a RISE dispensary near me, give us a call, or send us a message today.