Pennsylvania And Medical Marijuana: Everything You Need To Know

The legalization of medical marijuana is spreading across the United States. Research has shown that marijuana can be effective in treating many health disorders or in the management of symptoms for others.

In Pennsylvania, the Medical Marijuana Act was brought into effect in May 2016. Dispensaries became available to serve the public in April of 2018 as long as customers have a qualifying health condition. Conditions that have been considered for medical marijuana treatment include:

  • Cancer
  • Anxiety disorder
  • Neurodegenerative diseases
  • Tourette syndrome
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Epilepsy
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Neuropathies
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Chron’s disease
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Intractable seizures
  • Glaucoma
  • Autism
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Brain and spinal cord nervous tissue damage
  • Spastic movement disorder
  • Opioid reduction therapy
  • Chronic pain

To qualify for medical marijuana, a patient must have one of the above conditions and be prescribed a treatment plan by a certified physician. At this current time, recreational use of marijuana is still illegal in the state of Pennsylvania.

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Image by CBD-Infos-Com on Pixabay: Medical marijuana comes in many forms, such as oils and tinctures.

Is it hard to get a medical card in PA?

The process to get a card for the use of medical marijuana isn’t difficult in Pennsylvania, but as in other states, it does require a series of steps. First, a person must register on the Medical Marijuana Registry. This involves creating a profile with relevant information such as contact details, full name, and identification.

Following registration, a person must be diagnosed with a qualifying condition by a registered physician willing to give them a recommendation for the use of medical marijuana. Following recommendation, a person must apply for their Medical Marijuana ID card. This involves applying with your created profile and paying an application fee of $50.

How long does it take to get your medical card in the mail in PA?

Once all the above steps are completed, the medical marijuana will be sent out via mail. The timeline of the paperwork process to get a medical marijuana card will differ from person to person and depending on the time of year.


It may take anywhere from five business days to two weeks to receive the medical marijuana card in the mail, so it’s important to be patient during this time. It’s also important to note that your MMJ card is only valid for one calendar year and must be renewed annually.

Can you get fired for having a medical card in Pennsylvania?

Getting a medical marijuana card does not exempt a person from other laws in place. There are certain restrictions that those with cards must adhere to in order to remain eligible. For example, a person cannot grow their own medical marijuana in the state of Pennsylvania. All medicinal forms must be purchased from a licensed and registered dispensary.

A person must also adhere to laws such as not driving under the influence of MMJ, as well as not selling any medical marijuana they purchase. When it comes to the workplace, an MMJ card holder must adhere to work rules surrounding the policy on marijuana, such as avoiding use while at work and on work property.

According to provisions made to employment regulations, employers do not have the right to “discharge, threaten, refuse, to hire or otherwise discriminate or retaliate against an employee regarding an employee’s compensation, terms, conditions, location, or privileges solely on the basis of such employee’s status as an individual who is certified to use medical marijuana.” This makes it illegal for any employer to fire you solely for having a medical marijuana card, and it can give you the right to legal recourse if they do.

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Image by Startup Stock Photos on Unsplash: In Pennsylvania, employers are strictly prohibited from firing an employee based on their medical marijuana status.

How much can you buy at a dispensary in PA?

Pennsylvania has made it illegal to smoke marijuana flower, so it can only be consumed in forms such as pills, oils, tinctures, topical creams and lotions, liquids, and dried in a vaporizer.

At any given time, a person certified to have medical marijuana can obtain a 30-day supply.

This requirement can pose some problems for those looking to buy their medical marijuana, because the exact amount is unclear according to the Medical Marijuana Act. Since doctors are not prescribing certain amounts or types, it can be ambiguous in how much is too much.

Other states such as New Jersey have put forth specific limits. For example, in New Jersey, a person with a medical marijuana card can purchase two ounces per month. A restriction in amount has not yet been explored in the state of Pennsylvania, which leaves the door open for people to purchase as much as they want.

Medical marijuana has been proven to help people cope and manage a myriad of different health conditions. As more and more states legalize the use of marijuana for medical reasons, laws are sure to become more expansive.

Featured image by Kelly Kiernan on Unsplash

US States With Access To MMJ Have Seen 20% Drop In Certain Opioid Use

There are many health crises currently affecting the United States. But one of the deadliest is the opioid epidemic, which has wreaked havoc across the country. In 2019, more than 130 people died every single day from opioid-related drug overdoses. That amounts to a shocking 47,600 deaths every year.

While the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared opioid abuse a public health crisis in 2017, great strides have not been taken to appropriately tackle the issue.

However, in an effort to decrease opioid usage (mostly through legal prescriptions from physicians), some medical professionals are recommending their patients use medical marijuana (MMJ) products in place of opioid prescriptions to manage pain symptoms. A recent study indicates that US states with access to MMJ have seen up to a 20% drop in certain opioid use.

What is the MMJ effect on opioid use?

Doctors are increasingly suggesting their patients switch from highly addictive prescription opioids to MMJ products because they are much safer, and they are not addictive. The above-mentioned study specifically focused on orthopedic surgeons (who are the third-highest prescribers of opioids); it noted that, in states where MMJ products are legal and available, up to 20% fewer opioids were prescribed.

The fact that MMJ products are accessible makes a huge difference. In states with more restrictive MMJ laws and access to low-THC products only, there wasn’t much of a decrease in opioid prescriptions. So, when MMJ laws are less restrictive and dispensaries are easily accessible, patients have a much easier time using MMJ products to treat their symptoms versus relying on the riskier option of opioids.

 

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Image by Christina Winter on Unsplash: States with access to MMJ have seen decreases in their opioid usage.

Does MMJ decrease opioid use?

If doctors are willing to suggest MMJ products to their patients in lieu of prescribing opioids, MMJ usage can end up decreasing overall opioid usage in the health care industry. Several studies have shown that MMJ products could affect the opioid epidemic; when switching to a cannabis regimen, many patients are able to reduce or completely stop taking their opioid prescriptions.

This means that the cannabis effect on opioid reliance could start to turn the tide of the epidemic – the more people who aren’t introduced to taking opioids in the first place, the fewer incidences of opioid addictions and overdoses will take place. Additionally, opioid users who become addicted often end up turning to even more dangerous drugs (such as heroin) in order to get their fix. This leads to even more deaths – which could be prevented at the outset if a patient were presented with an MMJ option instead of an opioid prescription.

Could MMJ replace prescribed opioid use?

Although there will always be some physicians who prefer prescribing opioids to their patients, it’s possible that MMJ products could replace these more dangerous medications for a lot of people in the future.

Let’s take a look at three main reasons why MMJ products can be a much better alternative to opioids.

MMJ products are much safer

Opioids are highly addictive and frequently result in fatal overdoses. Marijuana isn’t physically addictive, so patients don’t need to ingest more and more to feel the effects. Additionally, individuals don’t have to taper off when stopping MMJ usage; there’s no danger in stopping cold turkey.

Aside from not being addictive, there’s another main physical benefit of MMJ products – there are no side effects! Aside from feelings of euphoria and relaxation, and sometimes an increased appetite, MMJ products don’t have any of the nasty side effects that opioids do (anything from nausea and dizziness to constipation and loss of appetite). Overall, using MMJ products is a much safer, more natural treatment option for pain management.

 

MMJRecs - MMJ edibles

Image by Margo Amala on Unsplash: Different forms of MMJ (like edibles) make it easier for patients to treat their symptoms without side effects.

MMJ products are easy to use

There is a lot of versatility when it comes to using MMJ products versus opioids. MMJ products can range in their potency and in how they’re ingested (smoked, vaped, in edibles, tinctures, etc.) so that they can be used in a more personalized way for each individual patient.

Each person can work with their physician or with an expert at their local dispensary to come up with an MMJ regimen that works for their particular symptoms and needs.

MMJ products are cheaper

Even though opioids are sometimes covered by health insurance, a month’s supply of pills (such as Oxycontin or Vicodin) can cost anywhere between $40 and $550! People addicted to opioids can go through a month’s supply much more quickly, leading to an incredibly costly habit.

MMJ products can be much cheaper, especially depending on the form that’s most helpful to the patient. Some states also offer discounts for people who own MMJ cards. For example, in California, MMJ cardholders don’t pay sales tax on any of their MMJ purchases, making MMJ a much more cost-effective option than opioid drugs.

As more studies are conducted in the future, it will likely become even more evident that relying more on a cannabis-based treatment regimen can lead to a decrease in opioid usage (and in overall addictions and deaths in the US). Therefore, states that are more supportive of MMJ usage will see opioid cases continue to decrease. Turning to MMJ products could be the catalyst needed to finally end the fight against the opioid epidemic in this country.

Featured image by Hal Gatewood on Unsplash