How can I actually get a medical marijuana card?
Allowing that you have one of the qualifying conditions and have also located a doctor on the physician registry, the process for obtaining a weed card is relatively pain-free. The first step is to create a profile on PA’s Patients and Caregivers Registry; next, visit one of those approved doctors and get them to certify that you have one of the 17 qualifying conditions. Then, return to the online registry and submit payment for your medical marijuana ID card, which should run you about $50.
After that, you’re off and running to the nearest dispensary.
Where are the dispensaries, and what can I buy?
Give or take a few, there are about 15 medical marijuana dispensaries open in Pennsylvania at the time of this writing, with even more in the process of opening. But don’t expect the vibe of a California pot shop.
First and foremost, there is no actual flower (cannabis plant material) sold in Pennsylvania dispensaries. Fortunately, that sad fact may be changing within a year or so, now that the state’s Medical Marijuana Advisory Board has voted to recommend the sale of dry leaves. So there’s hope. For the time being, though, all products in PA dispensaries are concentrated resins and oils. This is very much a no-smoke situation, meaning nothing sold at the weed counter is bong-friendly, and you won’t be rolling it in a blunt or joint.
However, the state is pro-vaping, so you’ll be able to pick up vape-pen cartridges. Among the many other forms of weed sold in pot shops are pills, creams, ointments, tinctures, and liquids. There’s also “shatter,” a highly potent, glassy form of cannabis concentrate that sort of looks like the tree sap from Jurassic Park, minus the mosquito. You can learn more about shatter in our comprehensive guide to cannabis concentrates, and the dabbers who use them.
How much does medical marijuana cost?
Dispensary weed is expensive -- exorbitantly so. Medical cannabis in Pennsylvania is selling for anywhere between $60 and $144 per gram, according to Goldstein. That’s right, per gram; we’re talking anywhere from five to seven times the price of street weed, depending on the product. “The price is really where it gets most crazy,” said Goldstein, who also referred to the state’s medical marijuana law as “one of the most restrictive in the country.” That's not counting Texas, though.
Will my insurance cover medical weed?
Nope. Everything pot-related must be paid for out-of-pocket, including the physician consultations, the marijuana card fee, and the product itself. That’s why many dispensaries aren’t seeing a ton of repeat customers right now; most patients just don’t have that kind of scratch, especially not if they’re already facing enormous medical bills.