In 2020, economists valued the global, legal market for cannabis at $20.5 billion. Now, that market has expanded to almost every state in the United States. Pennsylvania is no exception.

Marijuana sales—both legit and illicit—keep making headlines. In Pennsylvania, there are now approximately 131 marijuana dispensaries. Unfortunately, you might hear contradictory information about the legal status of cannabis in PA.

Fortunately, you can get the answers to urgent PA medical marijuana questions right here. Read on to learn 15 things you should know about medical marijuana in Pennsylvania.

1. Is Medical Marijuana Legal in PA?

Yes. Pennsylvania first legalized marijuana as a medical treatment in 2016. Since then, the list of illnesses doctors can legally treat with cannabis has grown.

Dispensaries are lobbying for PA’s congress to move further and legalize recreational marijuana. But, currently, that seems to be a distant possibility.

While some district representatives are sympathetic to legalization, very few are interested in acting to push legalization measures forward. Nor is there any push to overturn marijuana prohibition from Pennsylvania’s judiciary.

As a result, it seems unlikely Congress will legalize recreational marijuana in PA anytime before 2025—at the earliest. Until then, only patients whose conditions respond to medical marijuana treatment may legally use cannabis in the state.

2. What’s a Decent Summary of PA Medical Marijuana Laws?

In 2016, Governor Tom Wolfe signed compassionate cannabis legislation into law. The first marijuana dispensaries in PA opened their doors in 2018.

HB 1024
HB 1024 revised and expanded the 2016 act. It was passed in 2021.

Currently, HB 1024 legalizes medical marijuana for listed medical conditions. Patients can only legally purchase marijuana with a registered medical marijuana card. To qualify for the card, a patient must be under the care of a legitimate, licensed physician.

Before a physician can prescribe cannabis, he or she must complete a short, one-day course. Once the physicians complete the course, they can register as cannabis prescribers with the PA Department of Health.

Dosage Forms, Non-Residents

Dispensaries may only sell cannabis to patients in the following forms:

  • Whole plants
  • Cannabis flowers
  • Dry leaves
  • Vapors
  • Oils
  • Liquids

Doctors may also prescribe medical marijuana in the form of pills and topical creams. It is not legal for dispensaries to sell edibles. But, patients may mix dry leaf cannabis or oils with food.

It is not legal to smoke cannabis in a bong or blunt. But, it is legal to inhale medical marijuana with a vape pen.

Only Pennsylvania resident patients may purchase medical marijuana in the state. Out-of-state visitors cannot purchase medical marijuana, even if they have medical marijuana cards valid in other states.

Business Permits

The PA Department of Health may only issue 25 medical marijuana grower or processor permits at any time. It is illegal to grow or process marijuana without a permit, even for patients.

Likewise, the PA Department of Health may issue up to 150 marijuana dispensary permits. Dispensary applicants must pay $5000 to apply for a permit. Grower and processor applicants must pay $10,000 for a similar permit. There are additional fees for registering a medical marijuana business with the state.

Dispensary laws in PA are set to expire in 2022.

3. When Do You Need an MMJ PA Card?

You need an MMJ PA card if you want to consume marijuana legally. Recreational marijuana use is 100% illegal in the state of Pennsylvania. It’s only legal to ingest marijuana in any form if you have a qualifying medical condition.

An MMJ card functions as a certification. It tells department authorities that you’re using marijuana to treat a legitimate condition.

You need an MMJ (medical marijuana) card to purchase cannabis at a dispensary.

4. What Illnesses or Symptoms Can Medical Marijuana Treat?

In Pennsylvania, Congress legalized prescription medical marijuana. But, doctors can only prescribe medical marijuana to treat specific conditions. Those conditions are:

  • 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)*
  • 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*
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Severe chronic or intractable pain*
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Terminal illness
  • Tourette syndrome

Diagnoses with an “*” include additional restrictions to qualify for medical marijuana treatment. Consult with a registered cannabis prescriber for more details.

5. How Can You Find a Medical Marijuana PA Doctor?

The PA Department of Health hosts a registry of all certified medical marijuana prescribers. You can view a list of approved physicians in this document. That document was last updated in December 2021.

You can find an up-to-date list of medical marijuana doctors once you register as a patient. When you login to PA’s Patient and Caregiver Registry, you can create your profile. Once your profile is set up, you can find registered doctors on the same database.

There are also offline methods for finding a medical marijuana doctor in PA. If you want to find a physician by phone, call PA’s Department of Public Health. The department’s medical marijuana information line is 1-888-733-5595.

6. Can PA Residents Get Medical Marijuana Prescribed Via Telemedicine?

Yes. It is legal for medical marijuana cardholders in PA to get telehealth cannabis prescriptions. Patients can get prescriptions filled at registered dispensaries.

Currently, it is not legal to receive medical marijuana by mail. If a patient has difficulty traveling to a registered dispensary, they may appoint a caregiver. The caregiver must also be registered and listed on PA’s Medical Marijuana Program database.

An appointed caregiver can legally fill a prescription on behalf of a patient.

7. What’s The Best Way to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in PA?

If you want to get a marijuana card in Pennsylvania, that’s an achievable goal. For detailed directions, read “PA Medical Marijuana: Your Guide to Getting a Medical Card in PA.” This complete guide can walk you through each step on the journey to your legal, medical marijuana license.

In PA, medical marijuana card renewal is even easier. Just get a patient certification annually from a prescriber. Then, pay the renewal fee. It will be either $25 or $50.

You can renew your card through the Medical Marijuana Program patient portal. Or, you can renew by phone, by calling 888-733-5595.

8. How to Access PA Medical Marijuana Login?

Pennsylvania’s Department of Health runs the PA Medical Marijuana Program (PMMP). PMMP is a complete database and registry for medical marijuana physicians and patients.

To qualify for cannabis-based treatment, you need to register. You can register on this page.

To register, you’ll need your personal information on hand. That includes your driver’s license number or state ID. If you’re having trouble signing up, call the DoH helpdesk: 888-733-5595.

Once you’ve registered, you can login to your PMMP profile on the login page. You can log in on the right-hand side of the page, under the heading “Returning Users.”

If you’ve forgotten your username, you can request it from the registry. Your username will be sent to the email address you used to sign up. Request your username from this page.

If you’ve forgotten your password, you can reset it on that same page.

9. Which Medical Marijuana Strain is Best: Indica vs. Sativa vs Hybrid?

There are three strains, or categories, of marijuana. The strains are:

  • Indica
  • Sativa
  • Hybrid

Indica strains tend to be more physically relaxing. Patients typically use Indica strains to treat insomnia, body aches, neuropathy, and muscle spasms.

In contrast, Sativa strains often generate a “head high.” They can make patients feel happier and boost energy. Cannabis sativa strains have been prescribed to treat anorexia, PTSD, epilepsy, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Patients may use hybrid strains to achieve a balance of medical marijuana effects. Note that all bodies vary in their precise amounts of hormones and physiological factors. Our bodily differences mean each of us may react slightly differently to the same medication.

Thus, it is important to discuss how to approach strains and treatment dosages with the prescribing physician.

Cannabis Chemistry
Also, note that medical marijuana encompasses many diverse compounds. A single cannabis plant typically contains THC, CBD, CBG, and other natural biochemicals.

The unique effects of each compound are still being studied. Researchers have discovered that CBD is the compound that effectively treats some forms of epilepsy. In contrast, recent studies suggest that THC is the compound that effectively treats Inflammatory Bowel Disease for some patients.

Talk to your doctor about the latest research. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) publishes the results of case studies and randomized controlled trials. If researchers isolate the specific cannabis compound that alleviates your symptoms, it makes sense to choose strains with a higher percentage of that compound.

10. What’s the Right Dosage for You?

Medical marijuana patients use different doses to treat their illnesses. The right CBD dosage for you will differ from the right THC dosage for the next patient.

To recommend a dosage, your doctor will consider several factors. First, understand your endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is the region of the brain that responds to the compounds in cannabis.

If you have more sensitive receptors in the system, you’ll feel a stronger impact from a lower dosage. Since it’s hard to know how you’ll react until you try, professionals recommend starting with as small a dose as possible. You can increase your dosage slowly—ideally by as little as 1mg more at a time.

For many patients, even the lowest doses are effective pain management treatments. That said, some factors will render the lowest doses ineffective. Factors to weigh include:

  • How quickly you develop drug tolerances
  • What symptom(s) you’re treating
  • Your body mass
  • Your resting metabolic rate
  • Your unique risk profile for adverse side effects
  • Your sex
  • Other medications you take
  • Your primary method of cannabis consumption

Your cannabis dispensary may be able to give you more precise dosage recommendations. You can also ask a physician how these variables may impact you during a telehealth consultation.

11. When Should You Increase Your Dosage?

You should increase your dosage if you aren’t feeling the relief you want at your current dosage. You may also want to increase your dosage if you’ve built up a tolerance to cannabis at your current dose.

That said, some patients prefer to change up the strains they use instead of increasing how much they take. Changing strings can prevent tolerance from building up for some patients. If you’re considering switching things up, try reading about the best marijuana strains for pain.

12. How to use a Dosage Calculator

Dosage calculators are helpful tools. Just know they aren’t perfect. A physician or dispensary professional can offer better dosage guidance—something tailored to your needs.

That said, there are plenty of DIY dosage calculators online. Try using a search engine in incognito mode to get unbiased results. Then, search for the following terms:

  • How to use a THC dosage calculator
  • How to use a CBD dosage calculator
  • THC mg dosage chart
  • How to use an edibles dosage calculator

Try a few different calculators. Compare your results. Try taking the average of at least three calculator results as a starting point.

13. When Should You Decarb Weed?

You should decarb your weed when you want to activate the compounds in your strain, like THC. Not all decarbing methods are legal in PA.

Fortunately, patients can legally decarboxylate the compounds in cannabis by vaping. You can also heat your cannabis more slowly to decarboxylate the compounds into CBN. CBN has a stronger sedative effect than THC.

Learn how to decarb marijuana with this decarbing weed guide. It explains the process in greater detail.

14. How to Make Cannabis Oil Products in PA

It is only legal to make Cannabis oil, or CBD oil, in specific circumstances. If you’re interested, why not read, “How to Make Cannabis Oil: A Beginner’s Guide”?

In Pennsylvania, anyone can make CBD oil with industrial hemp. But, other types of Cannabis oil require manufacturing licenses.

15. Can You Legally Grow Medical Marijuana in PA?

It is legal to grow medical marijuana in PA. But, you need a Growers-Processors permit to do so legally.

To apply for a permit, follow the application directions published by the DOH. There is a $10,000 application fee for most growers.

In 2021, PA State Senators sponsored a bipartisan bill to expand legal growing rights. The Medical Marijuana Home Cultivation Bill would allow cardholding patients to grow six cannabis plants at home. The bill legalizes growing marijuana for personal use, but not to sell.

The Pennsylvania Senate hasn’t voted on the bill yet, as of January 2022. Another bill on the table aims to protect banks and insurers that fund marijuana-oriented businesses.

Get Medical Marijuana Treatment Now

Do you suffer from PTSD, chronic pain, or opioid addiction? Get cannabis treatment today. In PA, medical marijuana is a legal, effective medication for over 600,000 patients.

At Doctors of Cannabis, we can help you join their ranks.

Our qualified physicians can prescribe the right medical marijuana treatment for you. We can also help you with the process of applying for a medical marijuana card in PA. Contact us today for a consultation.