Although governments around the world have widely demonized the good ol’ leafy green in the past 100-odd years, the benefits of cannabis – when used safely and responsibly, that is – are plentiful. Many of these benefits are even backed up by tried-and-true, reliable research.
Even though cannabis is still illegal on the federal level here in the United States, many states have followed the Golden State – California – in legalizing the medical use of cannabis. To this date, three-fifths of the United States’ state-level constituents have legalized cannabis for medical use. Of these 30 states, nine have gone forward with making the recreational use of cannabis legal.
As you might already know, not just everybody can freely use cannabis in both medical- and recreational-friendly states. In medical states, people can’t diagnose themselves with conditions that grant them the state-sanctioned ability to grow, purchase, possess, or use cannabis.
How do people go about getting approved for the medical use of cannabis in the United States, then?
Let’s take a look at medical marijuana in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania, one of the United States’ oldest members of the union, is the fifth-most populated state in the nation with roughly 12.8 million people living in its New England borders. Despite being in the 90th percentile of states with the largest population, Pensylvania ranks just 32nd on the list of the largest states by a measure of landmass.
Medical marijuana has been legal in the state of Pennsylvania since April 17, 2016. Also known as the Keystone State, its Medical Marijuana Program wasn’t successfully implemented in its entirety until earlier this year. Most Pennsylvanians would surely agree that the eventual implementation of the aforementioned state-level Medical Marijuana Program is better late than never, though.
Hundreds of licensed, experienced, practicing physicians have been approved to recommend medical-grade cannabis as a treatment for various health conditions as of October 2018. Further, at least 35 dispensaries are currently operating in the state of Pennsylvania in accordance with all state-level rules and regulations.
This sounds great and all, but I’m sure you’re wondering something like this right about now, “How can I become a medical marijuana patient and gain the ability to purchase marijuana from licensed cannabis dispensaries?”
How to go about seeking medical marijuana in Pennsylvania
According to the state legislature of Pennsylvania, legal residents of the Quaker State can only qualify for recommendations of medical marijuana if they have a “severe, debilitating, or life-threatening condition.”
A full list can be found at the hyperlink above, though some of the most common conditions on this list include Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, cancer, Crohn’s disease, glaucoma, autism, and opioid use disorder.
What requirements should you meet to obtain legal medical-use cannabis?
As you probably already know, each of the 30 states that support their own state-level medical marijuana programs have different rules, regulations, and guidelines for their citizens to follow in seeking out medical-use cannabis.
In Pennsylvania, you must meet all of the following requirements:
- At the time of application, you should be 18 years old or greater.
- You have to be a current resident of the state of Pennsylvania. Be prepared to provide bank statements, recent mailed bills, and other mailed documents to prove your current residency status. Bypass providing proof of residency by simply obtaining an up-to-date Pennsylvania driver’s license or government-issued identification.
- Patients must have one or more of the aforementioned conditions as diagnosed by a licensed medical professional.
Congratulations! You met all the conditions above. Now what?
Don’t forget that the state of Pennsylvania needs to see the original documents – photocopies count, too – that a physician provided you when you were diagnosed with one or more of the ailments listed above. If you don’t carry these documents with you when you visit a qualified physician for your marijuana evaluation appointment, you won’t be able to proceed with the step-heavy process of becoming qualified to carry a medical-use marijuana card.
Lastly, if you were fortunate enough to receive a qualified, licensed physician’s recommendation to use cannabis to treat your health issues or alleviate the problems they cause, you then must sign up as a qualifying patient with the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
What else do you need to know about Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Program?
You can only receive medical-use cannabis from licensed marijuana dispensaries within the state of Pennsylvania. If you are, in fact, licensed to treat your health issues with cannabis as allowed by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, you won’t be able to visit other states with your marijuana in tow. You also won’t be able to legally visit dispensaries in other states that similarly approve the monitored, regulated use of marijuana to treat the serious health issues listed under Pennsylvania’s Senate Bill 3, better known as The Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program..
Keep in mind that neither physicians nor pharmacies will be able to provide you with cannabis. Also keep in mind that the use, possession, and transport of cannabis is illegal at the federal level in the United States, even if your state of residence facilitates medical marijuana programs.