Obtaining your medical marijuana card may seem like a daunting process- this article will break it down as simply as possible as well as provide as many resources possible. This article, like many others on this site, will evolve and change with our state legislation changes.
Since the process is cumbersome, this is being written in sections to be combined into a master resource upon full completion. This is simple the first steps to complete the online registration required to move forward with obtaining your Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana card.
Our eventual goal, of course, is full legalization; in the meantime, hopefully this list will serve to help every Pennsylvanian have access to effective and safe medications.
Step One: Register for the program:
By clicking This Link, you will be directed to the Pennsylvania medical marijuana registration page. It looks like this:
The registration is tricky- The difficulty we experienced testing this system on 11/5/19 with a patient entirely new to the process was considerable. To successfully complete this screen you MUST TYPE IN THE INFORMATION AS SEEN ON YOUR DRIVER’S LICENSE/PA STATE ID EXACTLY AS IT APPEARS ON YOUR CARD. Simply typing in “Avenue” instead of “Ave” or “St” in place of “Street” will bring up an error message. Your name (and all other information) must be typed exactly as it appears on your ID card.
It took several tries to get us through this screen to the point where we were temporarily locked out. Changing browsers fixed this.
1. Make certain your information matches your ID exactly, including errors (If so- Get those fixed at the DMV eventually, friend!)
2. Use caps lock to keep all letters uppercase.
3. Check the phone number- is this the same phone number on most of your records?
4. If it still does not go through, try fixing the page in another browser. We had difficulties with Chrome, we had instant success with firefox.
5. If all else fails, call the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Helpdesk: 888-733-5595
When we called we were faced with an automated menu that went through many of the same troubleshooting issues stated above, plus an unhelpful, super-long- recitation of an email address to contact with further issues that very few would have the ability to record. If anyone reading this actually recorded the email address recited from the helpline, please contact us so we include it in this article.
After you are successfully past the first screen, you will now have the ability to enter a password and user name:
This step is fairly straightforward. Create a username you know you will remember easily. Common user names may already be taken- however, we have not encountered anyone (yet) who became stuck at this step. Chances are you will have an easier time with a more unique username. We may have hundreds of people vying for common names like “Anderson” or sentiments such as “SomosPennState” or “WawaFan” for instance…but far less competition for short, non typical phrases such as”FremenPlumber”, “WeAreDannyDeVito”, or “StinkbugLover” (However, it is not known if there is a character limit or if those examples are taken yet!)
The password is the annoying type requiring the following:
1. 8 letters
2. At least one capital letter
3. No repeated letters in a row
4. At least one number
5. At least one special character (an exclamation point(!) works)
Examples of a strong, valid passwords: This1smyJawn,yo!, 420BlazeIt!, or iH8myPas5w0rd. In general, try to stick to short, easy to recall phrases for your important passwords, just rotate punctuation and capitalization as needed.
Now click “Create Profile”…at which point you should see this with your own username at the top
On this screen you will need to examine to make certain everything is correct (which is redundant considering the struggle we encountered with the first form which requires specific data entered perfectly. We did not mess with the information we submitted earlier, so the next step is to scroll down to here and hit “Save Changes”:
After you scroll to locate the “Save Changes” button, you must hit the button to be taken to the final screen:
Now you can see the entire online registration process from first input to success. The next post will cover the doctor certification along with a by-county list of current providers and their fees.
In the meantime, here are some recommendations for anyone from Harrisburg who may stumble across this guide:
Main Issues Harrisburg needs to address on this step of the process:
1. The online registration process may only be completed via a laptop or computer which is a huge accessibility problem for many Pennsylvanians- placing an especially inappropriate burden on our elderly and those with limited incomes and mobility. The bedbound and those without capability to operate a PC are harmed by this.
Solution: Provide a call center that allows patients to call in and answer these questions by phone or text. Allow for tablet and mobile phone capability so that there are no barriers to access for those who cannot afford a PC and may not have the health to drive to their local library. Even in driving to the library, the computers are insecure and public and forcing people to use a PC may show enough information to be a boon to potential identity thieves. In the effort to make the site “more safe” by requiring a computer, the reality is quite the opposite.
2. Error messages that do not inform the patient which field needs to be corrected. Furthermore, after enough tries a message posts that states one is “Locked out”- That is incredibly frustrating, (even though that message does not actually prevent trying again from a different browser!)
Solution: Keep the Error messages limited to the following fields only: Name, ID number, Date of Birth, City, and County. The spelling or abbreviation of “Street”, “Road”, “Avenue” should not be a barrier to accessibility.
3. The need to change browsers to complete registration process is very poor programming.
4. There are far too many screens to click through to complete the registration process.
Solution: Allow your programmers greater freedom to make backend changes to the site to improve functionality and ease of use. Although multistage authentication of the users may be required by state law (Author is presently uncertain on this), there are far easier solutions- first solution would be to entirely scrap the entire website and create the entire initial registration process as a single form with confirmation showing in realtime in green next to each field. See any healthcare website for examples.
As we continue with this process, it becomes evident on many levels how the website and entire process may be improved going forward and we will continue to suggest potential solutions.✨