About Cannabis in PA
In recent Pennsylvania cannabis news, Senate Bills 835 and 538 are on the table. SB835 removes the list of specific qualifying conditions so that a doctor may recommend medical cannabis to any patient at his/her discretion. Senate Bill 538 expands the Pennsylvania medical cannabis program to include edible cannabis medications beyond the currently allowed pills, tinctures, and liquids.
Pennsylvania has provided state-registered patients with a comprehensive medical marijuana program since it was passed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf in 2016. This program allows patients with a serious medical condition access to medical cannabis through a safe and effective delivery methods that balances the need for access to the latest treatments and patient care and safety.
Gov. Wolf is hoping to further reform the state’s marijuana laws by allowing residents to expunge their possession charges and for total decriminalization from possession, but there is no word on when this may happen. He has been known to pardon those prosecuted for cannabis charges through the Expedited Review Program for Non-Violent Marijuana-Related Offenses, but he would like to be able to do so on a larger scale.
In 2018 access to cannabis flower began, but it is only available for vaporizable use. Edibles such as gummies, chocolates, and other snacks are still not available for purchase. Private cultivation of cannabis is still illegal, but SB1024, the Medical Marijuana Home Cultivation Bill, has been recently introduced in the Pennsylvania senate. This bill would allow patients over 21-years-old the ability to grow up to six cannabis plants in an enclosed and locked space at their homes. They would be able to purchase cannabis seeds from licensed dispensaries.
Recreational marijuana is still illegal in the state, though there have been several initiatives to legalize it. A current initiative in February 2022 is being discussed in the state senate to legalize recreational use and many state representatives support it, but it may be awhile before it is actually passed.
Becoming a Medical Cannabis Patient in PA
You will need to register with the state and receive a patient ID number to get your Pennsylvania medical marijuana card. This is immediately checked and synchronized with the permit number / ID of your PA drivers license. You will also need to sign up and consult with one of our authorized medical marijuana physicians, make sure to include your patient identification number.
It’s time to go to the Pennsylvania Department of Health website and fill out this form once you get the doctor’s advice. In addition to the physician details and certification data, a $50 fee must be presented. You will receive the Medical Marijuana Card in your mail and you will be able to buy cannabis legally from a dispensary of your choice in PA.
Pennsylvania dispensaries offer cannabis in the form of oil, pills, tinctures, cream, ointments, and liquids. Originally, PA dispensaries were prohibited to sell or purchase the dry form of the flower, but at certain places, they are now providing it. It is still not possible to smoke the flower, it has to be vaporized.
The Medical Marijuana Program of Pennsylvania is licensed under the Health Department of Pennsylvania. The Department of Health of Pennsylvania implemented and approved the Medical Marijuana Program of the State on April 17, 2016. Dispensaries are now available in PA and provide patients with a debilitating medical condition with access to medical marijuana.
It is important to note that minor patients under the age of 18 have to have a caregiver registered who is responsible for picking up their cannabis-based medication. A caregiver must also apply on behalf of the minor patient in order for the patient to participate in the program.
Becoming a Caregiver in Pennsylvania
A Pennsylvania caregiver must meet certain requirements including being at least 18 years old and prove they are a state resident with a valid driver’s license or identification card. Additionally, a caregiver must not have a criminal record, which excludes them from assisting any approved patient. According to Pennsylvania law, “you cannot be approved as a caregiver if you have been convicted of a criminal offense relating to the sale or possession of drugs, narcotics, or controlled substances within the last five years.” An approved Pennsylvania caregiver can assist up to five state-registered patients.
The PA DOH indicates that up to two (2) caregivers may be designated by registry patients who require help in acquiring or using medical cannabis. Caregivers must be at least 21 years of age and can only care for up to five (5) patients.
PDH-approved caregivers can buy medical cannabis at an authorized clinic as well as possess, transport and administer medical marijuana to patients after purchase. The PA caregivers application method is as follows:
- Register for the program through the Registry of Patients and Caregivers.
- Provide a Pennsylvania driver’s permit or an identification card issued by Pennsylvania with a present address to demonstrate Pennsylvania residency.
- Complete a background check for criminal history.
- Complete registration by paying $50 for an identification card for medical marijuana.
It can take between four and six weeks after your fingerprint appointment, a portion of the background check, to receive notification about being approved as a caregiver.
Limits of Possession / Use
Pennsylvania prohibits any smokable cannabis, only allowing other specific forms for sale including pills and capsules, oils, gels, creams, ointments, tinctures, liquids, select concentrates, and syringe injectable products in dispensaries. Cannabis flower is only permitted if it comes in vaporable form. Both patients and caregivers are allowed to possess up to a 30-day supply of medical cannabis. Cannabis edibles including gummies and chocolates are also illegal.
On February 4, 2022, the Pennsylvania Department of Health sent a letter to existing medical marijuana card holders about some new changes that affect the products that are available for purchase in dispensaries. After conducting a state-wide review of vaporized medical cannabis products, it has ben determined that some of these products contain ingredients that are not approved for inhalation by the FDA. Products containing these ingredients will no longer be available for purchase and are being recalled. To see if you are using one of the recalled vaporizing products, please reference this PDF.