The state of Pennsylvania has finally rolled out its medical marijuana program, and it is just as convoluted and confusing as any other government program I’ve ever seen. After a long, drawn out process, here’s how I got my medical marijuana.
- Initial Diagnosis
The VERY FIRST thing you need is to be diagnosed with one of the conditions that Pennsylvania recognizes as needing medical marijuana. These conditions are not the same for every state. You can find the list for Pennsylvania here. I have generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); in some states you can get medical marijuana for anxiety, but not Pennsylvania, so I used my diagnosis for PTSD.
You must be diagnosed with one of these conditions by another doctor, not one of the doctors that prescribes medical marijuana. In my case, I went to my primary care physician.
2. Register on Pennsylvania’s Website
You’ll need to create a profile on Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Registry site. For this, you’ll need to enter some information such as your name, address, date of birth, and drivers license number. They will assign you a Patient ID number; to my understanding, this is a 4- or 5-digit number. I don’t recall how long it took me to get a number assigned to me. You’ll need this number in order to go to one of the approved physicians.
3. Visit one of the approved physicians
You can find a list of the approved physicians for the state of Pennsylvania here. You’ll need to go to this doctor and bring your Patient ID number, and documentation of your condition from your OTHER doctor.
This is where I ran into problems. I live in Chester County, PA. There are 24 doctors in my county on the list, yet it took me almost 3 months to get an appointment. Some of the doctors’ phone numbers don’t work, or their voicemail boxes were full. Of those 24 doctors, four are family doctors or psychiatrists, who would best know my condition. The first doctor I spoke with asked for my medical records to prove my condition. I asked if I needed the entirety of my records, or just something stating my condition. They couldn’t give me a straight answer.
I ended up going to an internist. It took a few weeks to get an appointment, but the appointment itself was pretty simple. I brought the 4-digit number assigned to me by the state and the printed notes from the appointment with my PCP when she diagnosed me with PTSD. I spoke briefly with the physician about my condition. She told me about the different products that can be purchased at a dispensary and gave some recommendations.
TL;DR: Plan far in advance, be prepared to make many phone calls; the doctors’ offices don’t know any more than you know from the state’s website, sometimes even less.
4. Pay for registration
Ten days after my appointment, I got an email from the state saying that I could now pay for my card on their website. It cost $50. If you receive aid in the form of Medicaid, PACE/PACENET, CHIP, SNAP, or WIC, you can submit for a fee reduction of $25.
I paid for my card on a Monday and received it in the mail on Friday. I was amazed that it arrived so quickly!
5. Go to a dispensary
I’ll tell the story of my first dispensary experience in a new blog post. I went to Keystone in Devon on 4/20 and it was awesome!
Have you gotten medical marijuana in Pennsylvania? If you’d like to tell me about your experience, or if you have any questions about mine, please leave me a comment on this post or use the contact button to get in touch!