8/1/2020: Edited to add the new renewal policies
(Editor’s Note: The original articles will remain in place since they are already shared. Hopefully this resource will be helpful as a one-stop reference for the entire process from registration to renewal…as soon as I complete my own renewal, Part 4: Renewal of Your PA Medical Marijuana card, will follow.)
Step 1: Online Registration:
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 not be completed on an android phone, 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 and those who cannot afford Ipads 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.
Step 2: Choosing Your Physician
After completing the last step and arriving at the “Wait for your email” screen, you should receive an odd looking email that looks something like this:
Fortunately, the state of Pennsylvania has created a comprehensive list of every approved doctor in the state, which may be found here. If the website is down (or you found yourself on the “search by zipcode” that offers varied results,) here is the entire file as listed October 30, 2019.
Since none of these appointments are covered by insurance (yet), most practitioners require cash up front. The appointments run from $75 to over $200, however, some doctors work on a sliding scale for those at financial disadvantage.
However, before that step, I highly recommend obtaining letters from your primary doctor as well as the primary specialists you see for your condition stating your diagnosis for one of the qualifying conditions as well as any disability reward letters you may have received.
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.
- 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.
- HIV / AIDS.
- Huntington’s disease.
- Inflammatory bowel disease.
- Intractable seizures.
- Multiple sclerosis.
- Neurodegenerative diseases.
- 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.
In most cases, there should be little resistance towards endorsing a patient towards medical cannabis- however, if you find that your doctor is not cannabis friendly, it may be a good indicator that it may be time to find a new physician. It is difficult, if not impossible, to continue a relationship with a physician if you are at odds as to how best to manage your symptoms. Medical cannabis is still new enough in Pennsylvania that some physicians may not support it out of fear of federal reprisal or they may prefer traditional pharmaceuticals.
(Regardless of the reasons- if you are unable to find even one doctor to diagnose you under one of the above listed conditions, I congratulate you and hope for your continued good health or wish you better luck with a second or third opinion)
Now then, each practitioner seems to set their own prices for initial visit. Most of them are swamped; the wait may be as much as a month or two for your first appointment.
What is Next?
If you are well organized, you should already be in possession of at least one letter (hopefully multiple from all of your relevant specialists, but I like to be over prepared)
You should also have read reviews and called multiple locations to find the best price verses driving distance provider.
Make certain you have copies of your insurance cards, lists of current prescriptions, driver’s license and any tests/diagnosis that you believe help prove your condition to the practitioner you choose. Make certain to read reviews carefully and choose a doctor who seems kind- Anxiety and PTSD patients benefit especially from reading reviews prior to choosing a practitioner.
(For doctors reading this, I believe all the verification necessary should be made by simply calling the specialists of the patients and verifying the qualifying diagnosis. It is not responsible to trigger episodes of PTSD or epilepsy to ‘prove’ a condition. Let the responsibility of proof lie with the diagnosing physicians, not by torturing the patients.)
I have not yet heard of any doctor reject certifying a patient who arrived with all the correct letters, ID, and payment.
After your appointment, you should receive an email that looks something like this:
Congratulations! Now you have the pleasure of paying Pennsylvania $50 to obtain your physical card. Here is the link to make your payment...unless you qualify for one of the discount programs above.
I received my card within a week, it used the same picture as my driver’s license photo and the card is as solid as my license card as well.
After you have retrieved your card from the mailbox, it is time to make your first trip to the dispensary of your choice. That will be the last part of this series: What to expect from your first Dispensary visit. For now, let’s recap the steps of this article.
Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Card Checklist:
- Register as a patient on the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Registry.
- Obtain letters from your doctors and specialists that certify your diagnosis of one or more of the qualifying medical conditions.
- After reading reviews and calling a few offices, Choose a doctor from the Pennsylvania Department of Health list.
- Compile any SSI/SSDI award letters, a list of current medications, your medical history of surgeries and procedures, and copies of any other relevant paperwork to bring to your visit.
- For your visit, bring copies of the letters from your doctor, the above documents, your license, insurance card, and the payment for your certification visit.
- After a hopefully smooth trip to the doctor, await your email from the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program informing you that you may now pay for your card. (You may also call the Help line at 888-733-5595 or constantly check the website daily)
- Pay your $50 online to Pennsylvania (unless you can get it waived)
- Await the arrival of your card by mail.
- Once card is in hand, then make an appointment at the dispensary of your choice!
Although this process is far from simple- hopefully this honest walkthrough will help other patients find the best medicine for their needs.
Although Pennsylvania suffers from shortages and price gouging in our dispensaries, the quality and safety of dispensary cannabis is still preferable to the black market with the inherent risk of arrest, untested product, and potentially dangerous vape cartridges.
With confidence, I find dispensary products to be both safe and far more helpful to my conditions over the prescription products they replaced.
As more patients become registered the need for more dispensaries and suppliers will also increase- which will in turn force our legislature to more quickly accommodate these growing needs.
Step 3: Your First Visit to the Dispensary
After you receive your Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana card in the mail, the next step is to make your first appointment at a dispensary.
For your first visit most (if not all) dispensaries require an initial consult appointment, regardless of your level of prior cannabis experience. Here is a general guide to the average process looks like for most:
- Choose a dispensary. Make certain to compare prices and selection, especially if you are fortunate to live near a city such as Scranton, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown, or Bethlehem. Fortunately, our more remote dispensaries in Erie or the Northern regions appear to have consistently fair pricing and good selection compared to more metropolitan counties.
Pennsylvania List of Dispensaries (Current 12/7/2019)
Keystone Integrated Care, Lawrenceville:
Maitri Medicinals, Pittsburgh:
Solevo, Squirrel Hill:
The Healing Center, Monroeville:
Harvest, Reading (5th Street Hwy)
Harvest, Reading (Lancaster Ave)
CY+, Butler County:
Solevo, Cranberry (Zelienople, PA):
Nature’s Medicines, State College:
Keystone Shops, Devon:
Nature’s Medicines, Bloomsburg:
Organic Remedies, Enola:
Maitri Medicinals, Uniontown:
Organic Remedies, Chambersburg:
Columbia Care, Scranton
Justice Grown, Dickson City
Columbia Care, Allentown:
Keystone Canna Remedies, Allentown:
Columbia Care, Wilkes-Barre:
Justice Grown, Edwardsville:
Keystone Center of Int. Wellness,Williamsport:
Herbology, King of Prussia:
Ilera Dispensary, Plymouth Meeting:
Keystone Shops, King of Prussia
Restore, Elkins Park
Keystone Canna Remedies, Bethlehem:
Beyond/Hello, Center City Philadelphia:
Beyond/Hello, Northern Liberties,Philadelphia:
Keystone Shops, South Philly
Nature’s Medicines, Selinsgrove:
The Healing Center, Washington:
CY+, New Kensington:
Keystone Integrated Care, Greensburg:
Organic Remedies, York:
Five Examples of Dispensaries
- From here, the process differs slightly per dispensary, here are the ones I have visited:
1. Cure, Lancaster: The location is at the corner of a shopping center, Hold your ID to the intercom to be buzzed into lobby one where you hand your ID to security and await your turn comfortably seated with other friendly patients to fill out the paperwork required by all dispensaries for a first time visit. After your short wait in the waiting room as security processes your ID, You will be called and matched with an on-floor expert who helps you select your products and places them in the system for you.
You will be called by a separate budtender after your order is filled. You can still change your order at the counter. The other patients in line are actually patient and speaking glowingly of every aspect of their experience. The aesthetic is actually…surprisingly like an actual local pharmacy, but with better customer service. The prices are directly in the middle of the state average, however there is an incentive program and help for low income individuals. Cure possessed the most technically knowledgeable employees during my visit and had a supernatural ability to appear sincerely chipper on Black Friday- the most difficult retail day of the year in any storefront. Cure also had very clearly advertised events for cannabis education. Your purchase is given to your in a bag with a very conspicuous “Cure” logo. The online menu is immediately accurate to the in-store selection.
2. TerraVida, Sellersville: Look for the firehouse on main street, Sellersville. TerraVida has its entrance sideways to the road, facing the firehouse. After years of black market prohibition, it was a jarring contrast to the recent past of Pennsylvania pre-medical cannabis regulation. The security guard will check your ID to enter you into lobby one. Upon second check of your ID by reception, you will be then permitted entrance into the main lobby. Here, your first time the pharmacist may place the order for you the first time and then teach you how to use their online system-as you wait in the waiting room for your order to be pulled.
There are cookies, board games, drinks, and the other patients are friendly and enthusiastic in their recommendations to anyone who will listen. Off peak hours and online ordering are a must for those who are easily overwhelmed. The budtenders are used to people from out of town. The prices are half of what you would pay at most other dispensaries. You can still add items to your order upon meeting the budtender. You have visited six times and no one remembers you in blessed anonymity. The aesthetic is a really posh spa: from the waterfall wall to the cucumber water. TerraVida provides the most take-home information as well as usually providing excellent quality canvas bags for each purchase.
Seminars, lectures, and community involvement are all very important aspect of TerraVida. It is strongly recommended to use the online order form or call ahead prior to pick-up.
3. Harvest, Reading (5th Street Hwy) /Harvest, Reading (Lancaster Ave). After awkward access from a local highway, you find yourself in an equally uncomfortable parking lot (both locations). Hold your Medical Marijuana ID up to the intercom and smile. Wait to be buzzed in, and then hand your ID to the receptionists behind the bulletproof glass. The waiting room is forbidding with stiff plastic chairs. However, once inside the retail area, the aesthetic of the Lancaster Avenue location is that of a bank in Bala Cynwyd from the 1970’s…however, you are actually in Reading, a fact that can never be forgotten with the profusion of bullet proof glass that creates an equally frustrating and formidable barrier for boTh employees and patients. 5th Street Highway location resembles a check cashing place inside and out, and could benefit from any color whatsoever. Even a nice rug would really tie the room together.
You will be directed to a different room from the lobby to choose your purchases at the counter either with the pharmacist directly or with the budtender after your ID is processed in the waiting room. (The process time for patients who come in to retrieve called-in orders at harvest is shortest from entrance to exit of any dispensary I visited so far.) The other patients are not usually particularly social and act startled at friendly interaction; Reading locals are the cagiest of all of Pennsylvanians. Visitors from out of town are immediately recognized and pitied by locals like lame labrador puppies in a dog park full of traumatized cage-fight rottweilers with PTSD. Despite the local culture of hostile introverts, Harvest employees are likely the most kind to the sensory sensitive migraine patients or those who have sensitivities to loud sounds or sudden movements.
Normally, the pharmacist will be the one to answer most strain questions-Reading patients are also the least likely to ask very much prior to their purchases. Lancaster Avenue has a terrible parking lot but has consistently better selection and more welcoming space, the 5th Street Highway sells out of product the fastest but has the least welcoming interior design. You pay $1-$14 dollars more per product except on discount days which bring most items to the state average price-wise. Call first to see what daily discounts are available. Saturdays are often the days with the greatest number of discounts. Patients are provided with a stapled shut white-wax bag for purchases. There may be a delay between the online availability menu and product available in store- however, you can secure anything in stock by calling ahead.
4. Ilera Dispensary, Plymouth Meeting : This is the most difficult dispensary to find, as it is mostly invisible from the approaching highways. The location is at the junction of several different roads 276, 476, and 422 all converge near the mid county interchange. This is not a location you can walk to unless you happen to be staying in the hotel whose shadow in which it stands. A location that looks from the outside like a luxury ski-shop.
You approach the counter after passing the security desk from the Batcave, the budtender is omniscient. Somehow, after discounts, you are pleasantly surprised to find you slightly got more for your money than you anticipated. You mistakenly believe you may have entered into the lobby of a 5 star hotel. The chairs looked comfortable, however, there was only one other patient who visited in my entire hour long visit. I enjoyed that hour immensely, the Ilera employees are well educated and passionate about cannabis saving our communities not just from typical chronic illness, but addiction as well. The chairs in the retail area looked comfortable, I did not get a chance (or need) to try them out. The online menu often does not reflect as much selection as is available in person.
5. Rise, Steelton : Unlike me who walked confused around three quarters of the mostly vacant building, you will know that Rise faces directly away from the road on which it lives. Follow the sound of music after you park your car- in a safe, yet desolate industrial area. Facing the church, you see the tiny awning and familiar buzz pad seen at other dispensaries. Hold your ID up and smile for the camera!
Once inside, You are identified as a new person immediately on first sight and welcomed profusely…. and you know that if you see them again in six months they likely will still remember who you are. Every patient knows every other patient on a first name basis regardless of age or economic background. Utopia is created in mod chairs between you and the community you have just found yourself suddenly welcomed into in the fifteen minutes it takes to add your ID into the system and fill out your paperwork. This dispensary is by far the most “local social nexus” of any I visited, and I desperately wish we had that here in Berks county.
Everyone from greeter to the pharmacist to the budtender all seem to have equal awareness of products and seem to know every single patient on a first name basis, Just make your purchase in room #2 after your ID is processed. The budtender ultimately helps you pick the products at time of purchase. The aesthetic reminds you of a community recreation center or the the waiting room of a dentist’s office, but with a contrastingly gorgeous retail area.
Your purchases are given to you in a zip-close black plastic photo-opaque bag. Very chic if you need a sudden black makeup bag.
Important Things to Know Before Your Dispensary Visit
- Pennsylvania Dispensaries are Cash-only at this time. Each dispensary usually has at least one ATM. You are better off going to your bank or local Wawa and taking your cash out prior to your visit.
- Ideally, for a first time visit $150 should cover products for a variety of needs. At this time of shortage, the minimum safe amount with which you should be able to complete a purchase is $45. The most affordable product at the time of this writing is disposable pens running from $19-$45. Flower is currently $20 per gram on average, and threaded cartridges average $50-$75. Muscle creams will set you back $30-$60, concentrates run from $35-$90, and all other products range from $40 to $110 for all other products.
- When you arrive you need to have your Pennsylvania Driver’s license/state ID on hand in addition to your new Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana ID card.
- Bring a list of your prescription medications and most recent medical history.
- At the door, You will either need to hold your PA Medical Marijuana card to a small camera to be buzzed in or a security guard will check your documentation at the door and open the door for you.
- Next, you will be directed to the reception area- You must present both forms of identification a second time to the greeter.
- Here you will be asked to fill out a packet of papers of your contact information, medical history, current medications, and prior familiarity with medical cannabis. (Some dispensaries allow you to fill these forms out in advance.)
- After you turn in your paperwork, you will then meet with the pharmacist who will review your medical history, symptoms, and comfort with cannabis products.
- At this point, you will be told about each type of product recommended to manage your symptoms/conditions.
- Make sure to ask if you qualify for any discount programs at this time. Bringing in your Social Security award letter, last tax return, or other proof of documented financial hardship are often taken into consideration at many locations.
- Many dispensaries offer discounts to veterans and military. Bring your ID.
- The location of fast food, a great buffet, or a Wawa within walking distance of many dispensaries are meant to test your willpower. Resist. Except perhaps for that Chinese buffet next to Cure, Lancaster… That makes the drive to Lancaster actually more worthwhile than average.
Pennsylvania Rules for Medical Cannabis Patients:
This may not be a complete list and it will be amended as laws change. If you are personally aware of any law or rule this list neglected please write in the comments and I will amend this list.
- You cannot view the product out of the box prior to purchase
- You must keep the product in the opaque bag provided by the dispensary when transporting between the dispensary and your home. Most suggest placing it in your trunk or other enclosed location in your vehicle.
- Smoking cannabis in Pennsylvania is still technically off limits. Flower products may be consumed or vaporized
- Edibles are not yet available at dispensaries, however, making your own edibles is encouraged. RSO is the most often suggested product for this purpose. (A drop the size of a sesame seed on a cracker is the average suggested first time dose)
- It is not legal to drive well intoxicated with any substance
- All cannabis dispensary products must remain with the original packaging. Tubes that contain cartridges and pens should bear the label printed at time of purchase. (I often have to remove the label from the box and transfer it to the plastic tubes myself. Some dispensaries are more conscientious of this detail than others!)
- Growing your own cannabis is still a felony at this time in Pennsylvania,
- Obtaining products outside of the Pennsylvania medical marijuana from within Pennsylvania is also illegal.
- Legal dispensary products obtained legally from other states does not seem to have precedent one way or another. However, there have been dispensaries in Massachusetts and Colorado in particular who are eager for out-of-state tourist revenue and often recognize and provide equal discount to PA cardholders as medical cannabis patients who are in-state. This is entirely dependent on each dispensary.
- Other states with a state-legal recreational market may have similar policies. A phone call can answer most questions.
- Use common sense. No shipping Pennsylvania product out of state, no sharing with non-carded patients, out of state people or resale of any kind.
Notice About Washington DC
- The Washington D.C. grey market policies and strong inclination to reaching out to financially stressed Pennsylvanians to offer cannabis at fairer prices, however, I strongly caution against this method unless you are personally connected to this region of the country otherwise via trusted friends and family who are already existing patients.
Results of obtaining cannabis from Washington DC have been incredibly variable from the ease of hotel delivery of sublime medicines to terrifying stories of both bad medicine and unfortunate altercations with the law. The shortages in Pennsylvania are misery, however, I do not wish to see anyone experience even more inconvenience or stress.
What if the Shortage in Pennsylvania Gets Worse? The Massachusetts Solution:
For conditions that have no alternative therapy such as childhood seizure disorders and there is ever a time you find there is no product on any shelf available- you may decide to take the higher legal risks involved in attempting to secure medicine from outside the state. Although I do not recommend this unless all legal options in-state are null, I believe that it is safer to travel to a legal, safe dispensary in Massachusetts over trusting the black market of Pennsylvania or the currently confusing grey market of Washington, DC- especially so soon after the controversy involved with black market vape pens.
If you are willing to take the risk to drive to Washington DC (in every possible sense, especially if you want to risk your vehicle and your life driving from Either 78 or route 76 to 476 South to pick up I-95 south to the DC Beltway), a drive to Massachusetts is only 4-5 hours from most parts of the Keystone State and may be a safer alternative. The current prices for flower are about $200 per ounce of dispensary medicine at the time of this writing.
If you have any possible route to avoid New Jersey and New York City, do that. New Jersey police specifically target out of state plates for traffic stops. I don’t even recommend the beaches. (Beaches are a better reason to travel to Maryland, anyway.) If you currently live in New Jersey and wish to escape, we have active colonies of former New Jersey residents in both Allentown and the Greater Philadelphia region at this time. After a short acclimation period, we even may allow you to live in our suburbs or rural areas provided you can successfully convince a full Pennsylvanian to marry you or you manage to establish a career or business that natives actually find useful and beneficial to our existing communities.
For Eastern and Northern Pennsylvanians: Avoid New York City by taking the route over the Tappen Zee Bridge near the signs for Albany. Take the Merritt Parkway via Connecticut, it’s beautiful) Waiting on the beltway surrounding Washington DC can often lead to sitting in traffic upwards of two to three hours. Despite the difference in distance, the total time spent driving to Massachusetts at a reasonable hour of day is far more time effective (especially avoiding Boston for less travelled areas.)
Although it may be easiest to simply make an appointment at whatever storefront is closest, the better idea is to check out the menus of every dispensary that is within your reasonable driving range to choose one that has the best selection and prices. When we are without selection- a weekend trip to the safe, legal state of your choice might be worth thoughtful consideration.
Step 4: How to Renew Your PA-MMJ Certification Card
As of July 30th, 2020, the Pennsylvania Department of Health released new policy guidelines for Medical cannabis patients on how to renew the PAMMJ program identification card:
The wording on the announcement did not clearly state the change from the prior policy for Pa patients; We contacted the Department of Health for clarification and received the following:
This removes only one step from the prior process, yet remains a step in the correct direction.
HOW TO RENEW YOUR PATIENT ID
(The following steps are taken directly from the Pennsylvania Department of Health website)
“You will need to obtain an annual patient certification from a certified physician. 60 days before the expiration date of your patient certification and ID card, you will receive an email letting you know that it is time to obtain a new patient certification.
You can get a patient certification from any registered practitioner. You do not have to see the same doctor who issued your initial patient certification.
Once the doctor certifies you, if your annual payment is up to date, a new card will be printed and mailed to you at the address listed in your patient portal under ‘profile settings’. Please log into your account using the following link: https://padohmmp.custhelp.com/app/loginOpens In A New Window. Log in as a returning user and confirm the address is correct.
The new card will start after the expiration date of the original card. You should continue to use your current card until the renewal card’s issue date.
Payments are not tied to the ID card and are instead made annually. 30 days before your annual renewal fee is due, you will receive an email with instructions for making the $50 payment (or $25 if you qualify for a fee reduction). This fee is paid once every 12 months, regardless of how many cards/certifications you may be issued. Be sure to watch for this email and pay the annual fee by the due date listed to avoid any lapse in card activation.“
THE PA MMJ CARD RENEWAL PROCESS: SIMPLIFIED
1. At 60 days prior to the expiration date of your card, start looking for the best price renewal in your area. There are usually events across the state that offer $50 renewals to existing Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana program patients. Your local dispensary may be an excellent resource: some even sponsor these programs at their locations directly.
Note: Any price charged over $50 for a certification renewal by a physician or practice is considered unethical by this publication. (If you are uncertain if there is a reasonable priced physician or certification event near you, contact me and I may be able to help.)
2. At 30 days prior to your card expiration date, you should receive and email from the Department of Health with instructions on how to pay your yearly $50 card fee to the state of Pennsylvania.
3. After you pay your fee, print out your receipt and visit the doctor/registration event of your choice to receive your medical recertification. Please bring your most recent documentation of your qualifying conditions from your primary doctor or specialist. I have found that simply bringing the discharge summary from my most recent appointment is sufficient: That usually has a list of current diagnosis’, a full list of current prescriptions, as well as basic health indicators such as blood pressure, pulse, weight, and allergies already detailed which not only saves time, but could better advise cannabis-educated physicians which products may provide the most symptom relief.
4. During your visit with the recertification doctor, they will ask you questions about your qualifying conditions and experience in the MMJ program so far. They may take some basic vitals and ask about how you utilize medical cannabis to alleviate your symptoms. They may also provide suggestions about how to more effectively medicate for your conditions and possibly recommend potentially helpful strains and/or products to try. (However, this is a bonus: not necessarily the norm.)
5. In theory, If your fee to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is paid up-to-date and the doctor correctly recertifies you in the state database system, your new card should arrive within 7-10 business days from the date of your recertification appointment. Keep your receipts from every step of the process just in case; It never hurts to be prepared.
Considering this new policy has existed less than a week, please contact us if you encounter any difficulties. Good luck, and medicate safely!
In the meantime, Hopefully this guide will be of some use to other Pennsylvanians seeking relief through Medical Cannabis. As the program improves and legalization on a federal level becomes closer, laws, products, prices, and procedures can and will change rapidly in the coming months and years✨