FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: SENATE BILL 3 – MEDICAL MARIJUANA PROGRAM
Pennsylvania residents AND Employers will soon begin feeling the effects of Pennsylvania’s new Medical Marijuana Act (MMA), which rolls out on May 17th and provides new rights for employees who become certified medical marijuana patients. As Pennsylvania joins more than 20 states that already allow medicinal marijuana, including neighbors New York, New Jersey and Delaware. Liberty has put together a Fact and Question reference guide for you to help answer additional questions you may have for the new Act.
What is Medical Marijuana? The term medical marijuana refers to using the whole unprocessed marijuana plant or its basic extracts to treat a disease or symptom. The marijuana plant contains chemicals that may help treat a range of illnesses or symptoms, prompting a growing number of states – including Pennsylvania – to legalize marijuana for medical use.
When will the Medical Marijuana Program be implemented in Pennsylvania? The Pennsylvania Department of Health began the process of implementing the state’s Medical Marijuana Program when Governor Tom Wolf signed Senate Bill 3 into law on April 17, 2016. The implementation of the program is expected to take between 18 and 24 months and, when completed, will offer medical marijuana to patients who are under a physician’s care for the treatment of a serious medical condition.
Who will be Able to Access Medical Marijuana? Patients with serious medical conditions will be able to access medical marijuana with a physician’s certification at designated state dispensaries.
What will the State or the Department of Health Consider as a Serious Medical Condition? A serious medical condition is any one of the following listed under the statute: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
- Crohn’s Disease
- Damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity
- HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) / AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)
- Huntington’s Disease
- Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome
- Intractable Seizures
- Multiple Sclerosis
- 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, and
- Sickle Cell Anemia
What form will the medical marijuana be in and how will it be taken? Medical marijuana may only be dispensed to a patient or caregiver in the following forms:
- Topical forms, including gel, creams or ointments;
- A form medically appropriate for administration by vaporization or nebulization, excluding dry leaf or plant form until dry leaf or plant forms become acceptable under regulations recommended by the Medical Marijuana Advisory Board;
- Tincture; or
What is the Process for Patients to Qualify for Medical Marijuana? To purchase medical marijuana, a patient will need to be under the continuing care of a physician who is registered with the Department of Health. The physician may then provide a signed certification to the patient stating that the patient has a serious medical condition. The patient must then apply to the department for an identification card. Once the patient receives an identification card, he or she can purchase medical marijuana at an authorized dispensary.
How will Patients Apply for Medical Marijuana Identification Cards? Identification cards will be able to be obtained with a certification from a registered physician and a completed, approved application submitted to the Department of Health. The Department of Health will make it as easy as possible for patients to apply for medical marijuana identification cards. The department is reviewing how it can make applications available to patients on its website.
Can a Patient with a Serious Medical Condition Receive Medical Marijuana if they are Under 18? A patient under the age of eighteen must have a caregiver who is approved by the department in order to obtain medical marijuana. A caregiver can be a parent, guardian or an individual approved by the department.
Can Someone Else Obtain Medical Marijuana on Behalf of a Patient? Yes. When a patient applies to the department for an identification card, he or she can designate up to two caregivers. A caregiver can assist up to five patients. Before obtaining medical marijuana for a patient, a caregiver must also apply for a medical marijuana identification card.
Where will Patients Obtain Medical Marijuana? Only a patient or caregiver with an identification card issued by the department can purchase medical marijuana at an authorized dispensary. The department will authorize up to 150 dispensaries across the state.
Will there be Enough Medical Marijuana for all Approved Patients and Caregivers? The department will be reviewing a number of factors to determine the placement of dispensaries across the state in order to ensure that medical marijuana is available for patients with serious medical conditions. The department will be conducting a full population study during the next 6 months that will include the location and number of patients suffering from serious medical conditions and their ability to access public transportation to get to a dispensary.
How can I obtain medical marijuana from out of state/other sources while I wait for it to become available in Pennsylvania? The Act allows a parent or a guardian of a minor under 18 years of age to lawfully obtain medical marijuana from another state, U.S. territory or any other country and to administer it to the minor.
Will I get in trouble for obtaining medical marijuana out of state and transporting it back to Pennsylvania? The department can only provide advice regarding the enforceability of the Act within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Act provides that a Pennsylvania resident with a serious medical condition, as defined in the Act, who has a physician certification to use medical marijuana can obtain medical marijuana from a dispensary that is properly permitted and located in the commonwealth.