Adult patients (18+) must first fill out a form with accurate and up-to-date personal information, including name, address, and date of birth, at the Pennsylvania Department of Health website (padohmmp.custhelp.com).
Tip: Make sure addresses are inputted exactly how they appear on a patient’s driver’s license or state-issued ID. Do not include punctuation marks; do abbreviate words like “street” or “road”; and when directions are included in an address, patients are advised to input only the first initial. For example, “100 E MAIN ST” is the correct way to type 100 East Main Street.
A similar form must be filled out by caregivers for medical marijuana patients who are minors, have a disability, or require in-home support.
2. Get a doctor to sign off
Patients with one of the approved medical conditions, as defined by state law, can qualify for a medical marijuana card, but first must have a physician certify that they have at least one of the 23 qualifying conditions. (A full list of approved conditions can be found at pa.gov/guides/pennsylvania-medical-marijuana-program.)
According to the state health department, there are now over 160 practices in Allegheny County that can certify medical marijuana card applications. An up-to-date list of physicians is available on the Pennsylvania government website (health.pa.gov).
Note: If your primary doctor has treated you for one of the approved conditions but is not certified, you can download your medical records and take them to an approved practice. The price of certification varies by provider. Some companies — such as Compassionate Certification Centers (compassionatecertificationcenters.com), HerbalCare RX (herbalcarerx.com), and Releaf Specialists (releafspecialists.com) — will take medical records and charge between $125-200 for a new patient certification.
During the pandemic, doctors and companies can authorize a card over the phone or over a virtual visit.
3. Turn in application and pay fee
Once certified by an authorized physician, patients must return to the state’s health department website (from step No. 1). Patients then fill out the rest of the necessary information, including the approved physician details and certification information (from step No. 2). A $50 application fee must be submitted to complete the process. Some patients who receive government assistance are eligible for discounts. A card will arrive by mail within two weeks.
4. Visit a dispensary
Once you receive your medical marijuana card, you will need to take it to one of the licensed dispensaries to make a purchase. There are more than 15 located across the Pittsburgh region. First-time patients will need a consultation before placing an order, but once registered, dispensaries offer online ordering for easier pickup.
5. Don’t forget to renew next year
Medical marijuana cards are good for one year in Pennsylvania, and you are required to get an updated certificate in order to continue with the program. When it’s time to renew, log back into your account on the Department of Health’s website (padohmmp.custhelp.com), pay the $50 renewal fee, then contact the doctor or certification company to recertify you for another year.