Medical Marijuana in PA: What You Need to Know
In 2016, Pennsylvania approved the use of medical marijuana in patients with certain conditions. The Medical Marijuana Program, which is expected to be implemented in early 2018, will allow patients with qualifying medical conditions access to this remedy.
Who Can Get Medical Marijuana in PA
This treatment can provide symptom relief for people living with certain serious or chronic conditions. For example, nearly 25 percent of cancer patients in Washington State, where the treatment is legal, have used medical marijuana in the last year and 74 percent of cancer patients would like to know more about the treatment from their medical providers, according to a study in the journal Cancer.
In Pennsylvania, a physician will need to certify the presence of one of these qualifying conditions:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- 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 disease (IBD)
- 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
- Sickle cell anemia
Qualifying patients can include those under age 18. The Pennsylvania Departments of Health and Education will permit those students to take medical marijuana on school premises, provided it’s administered by a parent or legal guardian or caregiver. The student must provide a Safe Harbor Letter that notifies the principal in advance. Other requirements apply, so review the State’s information for Patients and Caregivers.
How Patients Will Obtain Medical Marijuana in PA
Once they obtain a physician’s certification, the patient must apply for a medical marijuana identification card and submit an application fee. Patients under age 18 can obtain the prescription through a qualified caregiver, who must also go through an application process. The State is still developing the process for applying and will make an announcement when it’s available to patients and caregivers.
Medical marijuana prescriptions can be filled only at state-approved dispensaries. It will only be dispensed in approved forms, including:
- Topical forms, including gel, creams, or ointments
- A form medically appropriate for administration by vaporization or nebulization, excluding dry leaf or plant form
Medical Marijuana Use and the Risk of DUI in PA
Currently, the State makes no distinction between illicit and medical marijuana for DUI assessment purposes. An officer can charge a medical marijuana patient with DUI if that person shows signs of impairment and/or tests positive for the drug’s metabolites in a blood test.
Impaired driving puts your safety—and that of others—at risk. And a conviction will significantly impact your life, from costly fines to loss of license. Learn more about prescription drugs and DUIs in Lancaster County.
Protect your rights if you’ve been charged with a prescription-related DUI.
If you’ve been charged with a DUI related to a prescribed drug, like medical marijuana, it’s essential to work with a lawyer with the extensive experience and current knowledge to handle your case properly. Attorney Mark Walmer will help.