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Getting Medical Marijuana

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Getting Medical Marijuana

Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program provides access to medical marijuana for patients with specific medical conditions. This guide walks you through the process of getting medical marijuana.

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Medical Marijuana in Pennsylvania

Governor Wolf legalized medical marijuana in Pennsylvania on April 6, 2016, and on February 15, 2018, medical marijuana became available for patients at dispensaries across the commonwealth — providing long-overdue medical relief to patients with serious medical conditions.

How to Get Medical Marijuana

Getting medical marijuana through Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program involves four basic steps:

  1. Register for the program through the Medical Marijuana Registry.
  2. Have a physician certify that you suffer from one of the medical conditions that qualify for medical marijuana.
  3. Pay for a medical marijuana ID card.
  4. Get medical marijuana from an approved dispensary in Pennsylvania.

Get Registered

The first step to get medical marijuana in Pennsylvania is to register. First, create a profile in the Medical Marijuana Registry .

This profile includes basic information such as your legal name, current address, and contact information. To register for the medical marijuana program, you must have a Pennsylvania driver’s license or an ID card issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Here is more information on getting a driver’s license or ID card in Pennsylvania.

Get Certified by a Physician

Once you have registered in the Medical Marijuana Registry , the next step is to have an approved physician certify that you suffer from a qualifying medical condition.

Approved physicians also have access to the Medical Marijuana Registry and will submit their certifications directly to the system.

Approved Physicians

Physicians who recommend medical marijuana in Pennsylvania are required to register with the Department of Health. If your current physician is not registered with the Department of Health, you can find an approved physician here .

Qualifying Medical Conditions

Only patients suffering from one of the following medical conditions can participate in Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program:

  • 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, or for which adjunctive therapy is indicated in combination with primary therapeutic interventions.
  • 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.

Medical Marijuana Caregivers

When completing your application in the Medical Marijuana Registry , you can designate up to two caregivers to assist you in obtaining medical marijuana. Caregivers can be a spouse, a parent, or even a friend. Patients under the age of 18 are required to have a caregiver.

Caregivers also have to register for the medical marijuana program. All caregivers must complete a background check before being approved. Jump to Become a Medical Marijuana Caregiver to find more information on how to register.

Pay for an ID Card

Once you have been certified by an approved physician, the next step is to return to the Medical Marijuana Registry and complete your application for a medical marijuana ID card.

The cost of a medical marijuana ID card is $50. Patients who participate in assistance programs including Medicaid, PACE/PACENET, CHIP, SNAP, and WIC may be eligible for fee reductions.

First Time Registering

Once you have been certified by an approved physician, the next step is to return to the Medical Marijuana Registry and pay for your medical marijuana ID card.

Renewing a Registration

You’ll receive an email with directions on how to pay 30 days before your annual payment is due. This email includes a due date that is usually about a week before the expiration date on the ID card. If the payment is not received by that date, the ID card will automatically be deactivated. When you log in and pay the annual payment, the card is immediately reactivated.

Renew Your Registration

When to Renew

You’ll receive an email 60 days before your patient certification and ID card expire. This means it’s time to renew.

How to Renew

1. Submit Online

  • Log in to your patient account as a returning user.
  • In the blue ribbon at the top of the page, click “profile settings.”
  • Review and update personal information. [Note: All information should match your Pennsylvania driver’s license or state-issued ID. If you have a change of address card, use that address.]
  • Save your changes and click “Renew my registration.”

2. Check Your Email
After renewing online, you’ll get a verification email with next steps.

3. Visit a Doctor
Get a patient certification from any registered practitioner. You do not need to see the same doctor who issued your initial patient certification.

4. Check Your Mailbox
Once you’re certified by a doctor, a new card will be printed and mailed to you at the address you listed in the patient portal. The new card will have an issue date for the day after your original card expires.

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How Do I Start a Medical Marijuana Business in Pennsylvania?

Medical marijuana businesses are full of risks, but the rewards can be great. A leading investors group claims Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana market will start at $125 million, and then grow at an annual rate of 180% during the first few years.

Fiscal reports from Pennsylvania legislators estimated over $300 million in revenue if 0.77% of Pennsylvania’s population qualified for medical cannabis. Many investors and entrepreneurs want to race into the emerging medical marijuana market, but Pennsylvania has not made it easy.

Entrepreneurial endeavors involving medical marijuana require a great deal of research and money. Only a select few can operate as a grower, processor or dispensary, but opportunities are limitless for supportive businesses.

Start Deciding What Type of Medical Marijuana Business You Want

Medical marijuana businesses in Pennsylvania could be classified into two divisions: businesses defined under the Medical Marijuana Act and businesses not defined under the Medical Marijuana Act. Every medical marijuana business is at risk of commercial litigation and criminal federal penalties. A software inventory system used by a medical marijuana business could be subject to investigation and forfeiture if the marijuana provider was negligent and marijuana was stolen or unaccounted for, or if a glitch in the system caused an illegal marijuana diversion. All businesses should consult an attorney to learn about potential risks in starting a medical marijuana business.

Marijuana Businesses in the Medical Marijuana Act

The Medical Marijuana Act defines three types of business organizations that are allowed to deal directly with marijuana: growers, processors and dispensaries. Healthcare facilities are allowed to use medical marijuana if they participate in the new Medical Marijuana Research Program established under the Act. Certain clinics that are accredited with an academic institution can also operate as a grower, processor or dispensary. Profit and non-profit medical marijuana businesses will exist.

Businesses Helping Growers, Processors and Dispensaries

Medical marijuana growers, processors and dispensaries will require employees, contractors and supporting businesses. Inc. magazine has pointed out the new jobs available as a Weed Critic, Security Operator and Analytical Chemist. Investors in the medical marijuana market have a plethora of supportive business opportunities available in healthcare, technology, security, science, agriculture and administration. All of these possibilities have risks, and an attorney should be consulted.

Who Cannot Start a Medical Marijuana Business?

Not everyone is allowed to start a medical marijuana business.

The Medical Marijuana Act makes it illegal for the following people to own, be a direct investor in, or be an employee of a medical marijuana grower, processor or dispensary:

  • Physicians
  • Persons with a previous drug charge or addiction
  • Certain Public Executives
  • Anyone who has violated Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act

The permit and application process also requires the applicant to be of “good moral character.”

Start Saving Money

Starting a business, any business, costs money. Starting a medical marijuana business as a grower, processor or dispensary is a costly business. Non-refundable application fees start at $5,000, and require an additional $20,000 or more for a permit. Medical marijuana businesses also have to prove they have the money and capital on hand to succeed. You won’t be able to scrape up startup fees then hope for the best. You’ll have to have cash in the bank and equipment on hand.

Start Reaching out to Regulatory Agencies

A medical marijuana business is subject to comprehensive regulatory compliance from state and federal agencies. The Pennsylvania Department of Health is responsible for health regulations and regulations set forth in the Medical Marijuana Act. The department is also creating new regulations and a Bureau of Medical Marijuana. Laws will constantly change. Medical marijuana businesses will also face regulations from the Department of Agriculture, Department of Labor and the Environmental Protection Agency, to name a few. You should be aware of the many regulations in place before you start your medical marijuana business plan.

Start Talking to an Attorney

Medical marijuana business owners, investors and employees face the possibility of criminal and civil penalties, including life-changing jail time and heavy fines. Talk to a lawyer about your risks and regulatory compliance. The Slocum Firm has attorneys on staff to advise you. You can call 570-209-7376 to arrange an appointment for a legal consultation.

Write a Medical Marijuana Business Plan

Once you have decided what type of medical marijuana business you want to start, determined that the idea is financially feasible, talked to an attorney and feel comfortable you can withstand the regulatory scrutiny and risk, you can start writing your business plan. Your medical marijuana business plan should include contingency plans for changes in marijuana laws and regulations.

Start Getting Permission to Operate

Medical marijuana growers, processors and dispensaries will have to submit an application for a permit before beginning operations. Other permits, licenses and inspections will be required depending on the type of business you are operating. An attorney at The Slocum Firm (570-209-7376) can help you sort out the necessary requirements to get your medical marijuana business started.

Start Having Patience

It could take up to two (or more) years to get your medical marijuana business started. Have savings on hand. Have patience. It’s a long road, but if you’re in it for the long run, you’ll find some profitable rewards at the end.

Image provided by Pixabay under Public Domain CC0.

Are you wondering how to start your business for medical marijuana in Pennsylvania? Learn how you can successfully start your own pot business. ]]>