It’s now much easier to find a cannabis doctor near me than a decade ago. That’s because most of them are now available online. Thanks in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth has become a more widely used method of medical care. Though it was initially a way to keep from contracting the virus, telehealth has many other benefits. It’s cost-effective, saves people the trouble of having to travel and then wait in the waiting room, and it has cut down on wait times for appointments.
As a result, telehealth has become a more widely used aspect of all types of health care, from doctors’ appointments to therapy sessions to consultations.
Online appointments for marijuana doctors are particularly useful for new patients, who often only need consultation to register with their state and get marijuana cards. Where distance and time constraints might have stopped them from embarking on the application process, online appointments have proven to be a boon. Furthermore, many conditions that qualify people for medical cannabis access may render them immunocompromised or home-bound, meaning that a telehealth appointment is not only their most convenient option but their only option. For these reasons, local medical marijuana doctors often supplement the option of in-office visits with online services.
Companies like the Online Medical Card website are smoothing the way by making it easier for new patients to connect with qualified cannabis doctors. In a world of instant gratification, people prefer to be connected by just filling out a form online rather than finding a physical office and making an appointment. Now, they can get their medical marijuana cards online.
In Pennsylvania, weed is still illegal, although cities and municipalities like Philadelphia and Alleghany County (which is part of Pittsburgh) have been taking steps to decriminalize it.
Thus, the only way to get legal access to marijuana in Pennsylvania currently is to have a card. These cards have many aliases, including marijuana cards, weed cards, MMJ cards, medical weed cards, cannabis cards, medical weed cards, dispensary cards, medical cannabis cards, and 420 medical cards.
Besides legal protection, a medical weed card offers access to dispensaries across Pennsylvania, where you’ll be able to buy safe, quality weed products.
Should I get a medical cannabis card?
Before getting a card, you should determine whether this is the right step.
Medicinal marijuana (sometimes shortened to MMJ) can be helpful in several ways. Research has shown that it can act as pain relief and stress relief. It can reduce symptoms caused by cancer (such as a loss of appetite), chemotherapy (nausea), and other conditions. It can be a particularly good option for people who have tried conventional treatments to relieve their symptoms with unsatisfactory results.
In Pennsylvania, you also need to meet certain eligibility requirements. You must be at least 18 years old and a resident of Pennsylvania. You also have to have at least one of nearly two dozen conditions:
- Anxiety disorders, including general anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder
- Cancer (even if the patient is in remission)
- Crohn’s disease
- Nervous tissue damage to the brain-spinal cord with a clear indication of neuropathy
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
- Huntington’s disease
- Inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS or IBD)
- Intractable seizures, which are seizures that cannot be completely controlled by medicine or some other treatment
- Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Neurodegenerative diseases
- Opioid use disorder (in cases where traditional interventions are ineffective or where supplemental therapy is needed as well)
- PTSD and CPTSD
- Severe chronic pain, when traditional interventions yield inadequate outcomes
- Sickle cell anemia
- Spastic and dyskinetic movement disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease
- Terminal illness
- Tourette syndrome
If you decide that this is something you want and meet the eligibility requirements, you should begin the online application process with the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH).
Register with Pennsylvania’s Marijuana Registry
The first step is to register with the state medical weed program. You’ll need to submit a short form asking for your driver’s license or government-issued state ID. Registering with the DOH will get you a Pennsylvania medical cannabis login, complete with a patient profile and ID number, which you’ll need for the next step.
Next, you’ll need to be certified by a DOH-approved doctor. These doctors are licensed in Pennsylvania and registered with the state health department. A full list can be found on the state website, but you can also meet with an approved physician online at onlinemedicalcard.com.
Get Certified by an Approved Doctor
It is required by the state that you meet with a DOH-approved doctor to confirm that you have one of the above conditions and would benefit from medical cannabis.
Once you have a patient ID number, you can register at onlinemedicalcard.com. You’ll need to fill out a questionnaire, which will be evaluated to see if medical cannabis is the right option for you before moving forward. In registering at onlinemedicalcard.com, you’ll be asked to pay a consultation fee (currently $149).
The consultation will be through a phone or video call. The doctor will ask about your condition, medical history, and treatments you’ve tried to assess whether you’re a good fit for a weed card. If they decide you are a good fit, they’ll certify your card application and refer you to the state website.
Getting Your Medical Cannabis Card
Once you have a doctor’s certification, you’ll receive an email from the Department of Health with instructions on how to get your card. Many well known cannabis publications online have reviewed the Online Marijuana Card company, OMC, and has given them positive reviews.
You’ll need to pay for the card. It usually costs $50, but people in the Women Infant Children program (WIC), the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Medicaid, PACE/PACENET (Pennsylvania’s prescription assistance programs), and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) may be eligible for a fee waiver or discount. The card will arrive in the mail in up to two weeks after you pay, though it may arrive in a matter of days.
If you lose your card, you can register for a replacement using your DOH login. The first replacement costs $25, and additional replacements cost $50. Once you register for a replacement, the missing card will be permanently deactivated to prevent misuse and cannot be used even if you find it.
Your cannabis card will expire after one year, and you’ll get a 30-day warning. Pennsylvania medical marijuana cards require a renewal. There are two components to a MMJ card renewal: a new certification and a new fee (if applicable). You’ll need to make another appointment, get evaluated again, and pay a $50 renewal fee. If you didn’t have to pay the first time because you were enrolled in one of the programs mentioned above, you’ll probably get your card renewed for free or at a discount.
PA Medical Weed Laws Explained
Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana law was passed in April 2016. The specifics are as follows:
How much can you buy at a dispensary in Pennsylvania? Just because you have a card doesn’t mean you can buy as much as you want: MMJ patients are allowed a 30-day supply.
The identification card you receive by registering with the state program ensures that you will not be arrested for possession. You are also protected from discrimination in child custody cases.
Initially, they could only possess the medical cannabis as liquids, pills, oils, tinctures, or topical ointments. However, in 2018, the state Health Secretary approved a rule to allow Pennsylvania dispensaries to also provide herbal cannabis (better known as dry leaf). MMJ patients cannot smoke the weed, but they can vaporize it.
There are some restrictions for patients who are allowed to have medical pot. They can’t give or sell it to anyone. They can’t use it in a public place and can’t possess it on school grounds or on a school bus.
Patients are not allowed to drive under the influence of marijuana, even if it’s taken for medicinal reasons.
Home cultivation is not permitted in Pennsylvania. The state currently allows for a maximum of 25 processors and growers, who have to apply for a permit. These growers are carefully regulated if approved because their products end up in dispensaries. They are regulated through thorough security measures, meticulous record requirements, and seed-to-sale tracking.
The state also allows for up to 50 dispensaries. These 50 permit holders can have up to three locations, meaning there could be as many as 150 dispensaries in Pennsylvania.
The Medical Marijuana Assistance Program
In 2016, Pennsylvania passed Act 16, which created the Medical Marijuana Assistance Program. The program is a fund in the state treasury designed to assist patients with the cost of medical marijuana, including the cost of identification cards and background checks for caregivers. In 2021, the program was expanded to eliminate the later fees for eligible patients and caregivers. The program is important because insurers are not required to reimburse the costs of medical marijuana, and many won’t.
The Department of Health administers the program. Act 16 also established a 15-member advisory board to make recommendations to the Department of Health. Law enforcement, health and medicine experts, and MMJ patients are all represented on the board.
Caregivers have special permission from the state to buy medical weed on behalf of the patient. Any patient can have one or two caregivers, regardless of age.
Caregivers also register on the state website. They’ll need a Pennsylvania driver’s license, a government-issued ID card, and their patient’s ID number. Unlike patients, they must pass a criminal background check and will be rejected if convicted of a drug-related offense in the past five years. They also have to be at least 21 years old
Other Useful Medical Marijuana Rules
Pennsylvania has employment protections for qualifying patients. However, patients can’t use medical cannabis in the workplace if they perform dangerous activities, such as operating heavy machinery.
Although minors are not eligible for medical marijuana cards in Pennsylvania, their parent or guardian can get it for them by registering with the state as a caregiver. Also, if their parent or guardian legally buys it in another state, territory, or country, the minor can use it.
Patients registered in a different state cannot get medical pot in Pennsylvania. On the other hand, some states, such as Rhode Island and Massachusetts, will accept a Pennsylvania card.
How to find a Cannabis dispensary in PA?
Now that you have a medical weed card, you may wonder, “where can I find marijuana near me?”
There are dispensaries throughout the state, from York to Lebanon to Philadelphia. You can find weed dispensaries in Pennsylvania by visiting the state website, which has the information as a map and in list form. This information will provide you with the dispensary’s address, phone number, and web address. Online Medical Card also has a search tool to help you find dispensaries. It is important to note that some dispensaries require an appointment for your first visit.
Though Pennsylvania is working to decriminalize marijuana, the only legal weed available throughout the state right now is medical marijuana. The only way to obtain it is with a medical cannabis card. Thanks to innovative companies like Online Medical Card, patients can now be certified for cards through telehealth appointments. The process of qualifying for medical marijuana has never been easier.