The initial excitement expressed over the passage of Pennsylvania’s medicinal marijuana legislation has led to some fallacies regarding how the law works.
It has also opened the doors to various scams, intended to capitalize on that initial excitement.
Let me be absolutely clear on this first point: Marijuana is still illegal in Pennsylvania. Until Act 16 is fully implemented merely having a qualifying medical condition under the new law won’t prevent anyone from being arrested and prosecuted for possessing marijuana.
Which brings up my next point. Smoking marijuana is not covered under the new medicinal law, which applies only to medically approved delivery methods such as oils, topical, salves and pill form. The Department of Health MAY add dry herb as a permissible “medical marijuana product” in 2018, but smoking will remain prohibited as a delivery method.
It is medicine, and is being treated under the law with the same medical and pharmaceutical oversight as any medicine introduced to the marketplace.
Doctors are being trained and certified to recommend medicinal marijuana under very strict guidelines, none of which relate to recreational use.
Only a physician who has been trained and is certified to practice medicine in Pennsylvania will be allowed to make a recommendation. Prior to considering a medical marijuana recommendation, however, the physician must complete a 4 hour training course and must register with the Department of Health. A physician recommending medical cannabis may not have a financial interest in a licensed medical cannabis facility such as a grow or a dispensary.
Growing marijuana is still illegal. Claiming a grow operation is for medicinal use is not a defense. Medicinal growers will have to be licensed and regulated by the commonwealth. The process of obtaining a growers license is very strict and very costly. The application process alone may cost the license winner millions before a single seed is planted.
Finally, a physician MUST have a bona fide physician patient relationship with the patient.
In order to get a recommendation, patients must have a physician patient relationship with their recommending treatment provider. Because the Department of Health has not yet certified the training requirements for physicians no PA physician can yet make a medical cannabis recommendation to their adult patient. Any “physician” who offers to do so at present– especially for a fee– is breaking the law.