The Pennsylvania Department of Health passed Act 16, signing the state’s Medical Marijuana Program into law on April 17, 2016. The program is still in the rollout phase—patients began receiving their certifications a few months ago, on November 1, and dispensaries are scheduled to be open early this year.
Here’s what you need to know about the subject:
- Medical cannabis was legalized in PA because the legislature validated the efficacy of marijuana to alleviate pain and improve the quality of life for people suffering from certain medical conditions.
- Medical cannabis will only be made available to PA residents that are diagnosed with one (or more) of the following 17 serious medical conditions:
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Crohn’s Disease
- Chronic Pain*
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
- Huntington’s Disease
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Intractable Seizures
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Sickle Cell Anemia
- Spinal Cord Injury**
* Severe chronic or intractable pain of neuropathic origin or severe chronic or intractable pain in which conventional therapeutic intervention and opiate therapy is contraindicated or ineffective.
** Damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity.
- Patients that are prescribed medical cannabis will be able to ingest it in the following ways:
- PA doctors can become licensed with the state to receive a credential that allows them to recommend medical cannabis to qualifying patients. The process includes a four-hour course, after which time they will be listed on Pa.gov and other relevant directories.
- PA residents that have any of the 17 qualifying conditions (as determined by a state-certified doctor) can register for a medical marijuana ID card which will allow them to visit one of the PA dispensaries to receive their medication. The dispensaries (pharmacies created specifically for the distribution of medical marijuana) will be in operation throughout the state where people can pick up their cannabis prescriptions.
PA residents can receive more information about how to participate as a patient, doctor or caregiver by visiting Pa.gov/guides/pennsylvania-medical-marijuana-program.