Medical Marijuana

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

WHAT IS MEDICAL MARIJUANA?

MMJ is a specially grown and prepared marijuana used to treat certain medical conditions. MMJ is low in THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), the chemical responsible for euphoria, and high in CBD (Cannabidiol), the chemicals with medical benefit.

Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Law allows for marijuana use in serious medical conditions, including: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Autism, Cancer, Crohn’s Disease, Neuropathy, with Intractable Spasicity, Epilepsy, Glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Huntington’s Disease, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Intractable Seizures, Multiple Sclerosis, Neuropathies, Parkinson’s Disease, PTSD, Severe Chronic Pain unresponsive to conventional therapies and Opiates and Sickle Cell Anemia.

If a patient has any of these medical conditions, they may apply for MMJ. First the patient must register online at medicalmarijuana.pa.gov and obtain an ID number. Next, the patient must visit a state-certified
medical marijuana physician. The physician certifies the patient has one of the recognized medical conditions for MMJ. The process includes a review of medical records, a history and physical, documents reviewed including an informed consent form and a background check for any past or present controlled substance use. It is recommended to discontinue any narcotics use before beginning MMJ. Combined use can cause serious side effects including overdose, coma, and occasionally death.

Once the patient is certified, they will receive an email from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, requesting a fifty-dollar payment to obtain a MMJ ID card. The ID card will allow access to the dispensary where MMJ will be issued. The dispensary will have a medical professional, usually a pharmacist certified in MMJ. The pharmacist will discuss the type, benefits, risks, and side effects of MMJ to be used to treat the patient’s medical condition.

 

Since marijuana is still considered illegal by the federal government, US medical research is limited. MMJ has been legal in California for over twenty years and some data on effective MMJ treatments is available. Also, international studies especially in Israel, show effective treatments in cancer, depression and Dementia. In time, marijuana will be legalized by the federal government. This event would allow medical research at University Medical Centers to study MMJ. Pharmaceutical companies would develop better and purer forms of MMJ to guarantee purity and dosing, once MMJ is legalized. Finally, health insurance companies would cover these services and medications as MMJ becomes the standard of care.

WHY WAS MEDICAL MARIJUANA USE APPROVED IN PENNSYLVANIA?

Studies have shown that medical marijuana can assist patients suffering from certain serious medical conditions by alleviating pain and improving their quality of life.

WHAT IS A “SERIOUS MEDICAL CONDITION” UNDER THE ACT?

The Act defines a “serious medical condition” as any one of the following:

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

  • Anxiety Disorders

  • Autism

  • Cancer

  • Crohn’s Disease

  • Damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity

  • Dyskinetic and spastic movement disorders

  • Epilepsy

  • Glaucoma

  • HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) / AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)

  • Huntington’s Disease

  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease

  • Intractable Seizures

  • Multiple Sclerosis

  • Neurodegenerative diseases

  • Neuropathies

  • Parkinson’s Disease

  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

  • 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

  • Sickle Cell Anemia

  • Terminal illness

  • Tourette Syndrome

DOES THE MEDICAL MARIJUANA PROGRAM PROTECT AGAINST FEDERAL PROSECUTION?

No. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has the authority to enforce civil and criminal federal laws relating to marijuana possession and use, regardless of state law. Growing, distributing, and/or possessing marijuana in any capacity, except through a federally approved research program, is a violation of federal law, and no state or local law provides a legal defense to a violation of federal law. In light of current DOJ guidance, however, it may be unlikely that federal authorities would bring civil enforcement actions or criminal investigations and prosecutions against growers/ processors, dispensaries, physicians, seriously ill individuals or caregivers if they are acting pursuant to the Act. A memorandum from the DOJ (PDF), dated August 29, 2013, explains the priorities of federal authorities regarding marijuana possession and use, including state medical marijuana programs.

WHO WILL BE ABLE TO OBTAIN MEDICAL MARIJUANA?

Under the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act, patients who are residents of the Commonwealth and have a serious medical condition as certified by a physician will be able to obtain medical marijuana at dispensaries that are located in the Commonwealth and have a validly issued permit from the department. 

A “caregiver” who is designated by the patient and is registered with the department will be able to obtain medical marijuana from a dispensary located in the Commonwealth that has a validly-issued permit from the department for the caregiver to deliver medical marijuana to the patient.

WHAT IS MY PATIENT PROFILE?

Your patient profile contains all your relevant patient information. Each time you log onto the patient and caregiver registry, you will be able to access this information.

WHAT IS A PATIENT CERTIFICATION?

A practitioner approved by the Department of Health can issue a patient certification. The certification confirms that you have one of the serious medical conditions defined in the Act, and that medical marijuana may benefit you. You cannot participate in the program without a patient certification.

HOW DO I GET A PATIENT CERTIFICATION?

Setup an appoint with Dr. May Flores and can discuss options for you and if you are indeed a candidate.

DO I NEED A PATIENT CERTIFICATION TO CREATE MY PATIENT PROFILE IN THE REGISTRY?

No. You should create your patient profile before obtaining a patient certification. However, to complete registration you will need a patient certification from an approved practitioner. If you do not have an approved practitioner, you can view a list of approved practitioners here (PDF).

WHAT INFORMATION DO I NEED TO HAVE AVAILABLE WHEN I REGISTER?

Patients under the age of 18 are required to have a caregiver apply on their behalf.

Patients over the age of 18 (and caregivers) need to have proof of Pennsylvania residency in the form of a Pennsylvania driver’s license or a Pennsylvania state issued identification card with their current address.

CAN MINORS WITH SERIOUS MEDICAL CONDITIONS GET MEDICAL MARIJUANA?

Yes. Patients under the age of 18 with a serious medical condition may get medical marijuana through a caregiver.

HOW DO I SIGN UP OR REGISTER A MINOR IN THE PROGRAM?

Minors under the age of 18 require a caregiver to register on their behalf. If you are the minor’s parent, legal guardian, or spouse you can serve as your minor’s caregiver by registering as their caregiver. If you are not the minor’s parent, legal guardian, or spouse, an ‘authorization to designate a third-party caregiver’ form must be completed. This form can be downloaded from the caregiver’s profile. Once completed, you will upload the form in your caregiver profile.

I CARE FOR A PATIENT WITH A DISABILITY. HOW CAN I REGISTER THEM FOR THE PROGRAM?

If the patient is under the age of 18, they are required to have a caregiver apply on their behalf. If a patient is 18 years of age or older and able to register themselves, they may do so. If they cannot, a caregiver may register for them.

CAN YOU REGISTER AS A PATIENT FOR THE PROGRAM IF YOU HAVE A CRIMINAL RECORD?

You are not required to complete a background check if you are registering as a patient. 

WHEN WILL I GET MY MEDICAL MARIJUANA ID CARD?

The department is currently developing the process to obtain a medical marijuana ID card. The department anticipates mailing ID cards to patients and caregivers later this year. More information will be available closer to that time.

HOW MUCH IS THE MEDICAL MARIJUANA ID CARD?

The fee for the card is $50. Individuals providing evidence that they participate in the following government programs may qualify for a discounted medical marijuana ID card: Medicaid, PACE/ PACENET, CHIP, SNAP, and WIC.

WHERE CAN I GET MEDICAL MARIJUANA?

Once you have received your medical marijuana ID card, you can purchase medical marijuana at a dispensary in Pennsylvania that has been issued a permit by the Department of Health.

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