Frequently Asked Questions

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What do I need to have to qualify for a medical card?

Patients must be a resident in the state of Pennsylvania with proof of residency. If you do not have a Pennsylvania state I.D. an out of state I.D., passport, or other photo I.D. such as bank statement, utility bill, etc is acceptable however bring it to your appointment 
A Compassionate Certification Center patient will have a prior medical record or records reviewed and have a medical condition which fits into one of the categories below. Our doctors are certified and specialized in cannabis. 
 
Do not use another directory because you won’t find doctors who understand medical cannabis like we do anywhere else. 
 
Please request medical records from any doctor who sees you, urgent care centers or other proof showing you have a condition which requires medical marijuana and bring them with you. Unsure? Call our office at 888-316-9085 or email megan@compassionatecertificationcenters.com to discuss with a trained medical professional.

 

What conditions will qualify for a medical card in Pennsylvania?

You must be diagnosed with one of the following conditions below to qualify for a medical marijuana card in Pennslyvania. Note: We do not perform drug screens.

  • Pain, Chronic Pain
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Nerve pain or Neuropathic Pain (also called neuropathies)
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
  • Autism
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)
  • AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)
  • Huntington’s Disease
  • Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome
  • 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 (pain medication) therapy is contraindicated or not working
  • Damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity
  • Sickle Cell Anemia

Can a patient with a serious medical condition receive medical marijuana if they are under 18?

Yes. A patient under the age of eighteen must have a caregiver who is approved by the department  in order to obtain medical marijuana. A caregiver can be a parent, guardian or an individual approved by the department.

All applicants will need:

  • Pennsylvania Background check
  • Completed electronic copy of the Safe Harbor Act Letter Form
  • Legal guardians will need an electronic copy of their guardianship papers
  • Caregivers will need an electronic copy of their caregiver status
  • Spouses will need an electronic copy of their marriage certificate

Below is a list of some helpful forms to get you started:

Can someone else obtain medical marijuana on behalf of a patient?

Yes. When a patient applies to the department for an identification card, he or she can designate up to two caregivers. A caregiver can assist up to five patients. Before obtaining medical marijuana for a patient, a caregiver must also apply for a medical marijuana identification card. We can assist with this process here at CCC of you require further help or this is confusing. 

Where will patients obtain medical marijuana?

Use our location finder tool so you can find a dispensary that is closest to your home, see if they have the right medicine in stock, and then schedule an appointment.

Only a patient or caregiver with an identification card issued by the state can purchase medical marijuana at an authorized dispensary.

If you have any questions, please contact us at 888-316-9085 or email megan@compassionatecertificationcenters.com.

How much will this cost?

Doctor visits are $225 plus a small state fee once you qualify and you need to return to CCC to obtain a new card each year.

If additional assistance is required to obtain medical records and follow up visits are required, we will gladly let you know and discuss billing insurance for non-marijuana card related services.

How do I set up an appointment with a Compassionate Certification Center?

Use the section on the site, “Location Finder”. The closest center(s) will show up for you. You can call or email the center to set up an appointment. If the center is not open yet, you can subscribe to the email list and we will contact you when that center is open near you. 

Will my insurance cover the costs of my evaluation, follow up, or other costs?

No, insurance does not cover the cost of the evaluation, follow up, medical marijuana or the cost for the visit or card. Costs will be posted on the site under another section per state. 

Do I need a referral?

No, you can schedule an appointment with a center as the certification is a cash acceptance only per visit, and you will not be billed so your insurance will not require this since you do not use insurance because it does not cover medical marijuana visits to physicians.

What medical documentation should I bring?

This is state-specific and varies. Once you have identified a center near you and made an appointment, you will be given that information when you schedule your appointment.

What exactly do I receive if I get my certification from the center?

You will receive a signed document that attests you have the medical condition for which your state you reside in is allowing. You will also receive cautionary paperwork to educate yourself on how to safely begin the medical marijuana process.

How do I approach my doctor about medical marijuana?

The best approach is to be as informed as possible about your potential treatments, their side effects, and what you want to get out of your treatment. Using our website as a resource can help you achieve this, and being open and honest with your doctor is always the best approach. If you find your doctor is closed to the idea of medical marijuana, we are here to help you as best we can!

Who will be able to obtain medical marijuana if you are a parent whose child needs this or under 18?

Under the Medical Marijuana Program, patients who are residents of the commonwealth and have a serious medical condition as certified by a physician will be able to obtain medical marijuana at approved dispensaries that are located in the commonwealth and have a validly-issued permit from the department.

A “caregiver” who is designated by the patient and approved by the department will be able to obtain medical marijuana from an approved dispensary located in the commonwealth that has a validly-issued permit from the department in order for the caregiver to deliver medical marijuana to the patient.

What information is needed to complete the Safe Harbor Application?

Prior to beginning the Safe Harbor Letter application process, please make sure you have all of the required documents and information necessary to submit your application.

All applicants will need:

  • Pennsylvania Background check
  • Completed electronic copy of the Safe Harbor Act Letter Form
  • Legal guardians will need an electronic copy of their guardianship papers
  • Caregivers will need an electronic copy of their caregiver status
  • Spouses will need an electronic copy of their marriage certificate

Below is a list of some helpful forms to get you started:

Who is considered a "Caregiver" under the Act?

The Act defines a “caregiver” as an individual, 21 years of age or older unless otherwise authorized by the department, who is designated by a patient or, if the patient is under 18 years of age, an individual that is a parent or legal guardian of the patient, or an individual designated by a parent or legal guardian, or an appropriate individual approved by the department upon a sufficient showing that no parent or legal guardian is appropriate or available.

Caregivers must undergo a criminal history background check, submit an application to the department for an identification card, and be registered with the department. The department will make applications for caregivers available on its website. Simple! If not, call us and we will assist.

Can patients with serious medical conditions receive medical marijuana if they are under 18?

Yes. Patients under the age of 18 with a serious medical condition may obtain medical marijuana through a caregiver. For patients under the age of 18, a caregiver may be a parent or legal guardian, a person designated by a parent or guardian, or an individual approved by the department upon a sufficient showing that no parent or legal guardian is appropriate or available.

The caregiver must undergo a criminal history background check, apply to the department for an identification card, and be registered with the department. The patient must also have an identification card issued by the department. The department will make applications available to patients on its website.

Can someone else obtain medical marijuana on behalf of a patient?

Yes. When a patient submits an application to the department for an identification card, he or she may designate up to two caregivers. Caregivers must undergo a criminal history background check, submit an application to the department for an identification card, and be registered with the department. The department will make applications for caregivers available on its website.

There is a $50 processing fee for caregiver applications, but the department may waive or reduce the fee if the applicant demonstrates financial hardship on the application.

Can a cargiver be designated by more than one patient?

Yes. A caregiver may be designated by up to five patients. Before obtaining medical marijuana for a patient, however, a caregiver must apply for and obtain a medical marijuana identification card and be registered with the department.

Where will patients or caregivers obtain medical marijuana?

Registered patients or caregivers with an identification card issued by the department may purchase medical marijuana at an approved dispensary that has a valid permit from the department and is located in the commonwealth. The department may issue permits to up to 50 dispensaries across the state. Each dispensary may have up to three locations in the state from which to dispense medical marijuana.

Will there be enough medical marijuana for all approved patients and caregivers?

The department will be reviewing a number of factors to determine the placement of dispensaries across the state in order to ensure that medical marijuana is available for patients with serious medical conditions. The department will be conducting a full population study during the next six months that will include: (1) the location and number of patients suffering from serious medical conditions; and (2) their ability to access public transportation to get to a dispensary.

Can I obtain medical marijuana from out of state and transport it to PA while they wait for it to become available?

Only a minor under 18 years of age with a serious medical condition may obtain medical marijuana from another state through a parent, legal guardian, caregiver, or spouse. For up to two years following the effective date of the Act, Section 2106 of the Medical Marijuana Act provides that if a parent, legal guardian, caregiver or spouse of a minor under 18 years of age with a serious medical condition lawfully obtains medical marijuana from another state, territory or country to be administered to that minor, the parent, legal guardian, caregiver or spouse does not violate the Act, or the Pennsylvania Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act. The form of marijuana obtained in the other state must be in the form made lawful by Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Program. Patients, parents, legal guardians, caregivers and spouses also must comply with the application and certification requirements of the Act, as developed by the department. The department intends to publish a temporary regulation regarding the implementation of Section 2106.

Neither Section 2106 nor the Act permits adult patients 18 years of age and older, or their caregivers, to obtain medical marijuana from another state. For adult patients 18 years of age and older, medical marijuana may only be obtained from a department-approved and permitted dispensary located in the commonwealth as permitted by the Act.

Will I lose my license and how do I know what to prescribe?

Laws vary by State, it is important that having access to the legal knowledge in our portal will help you stay compliant. A hand full of doctors have lost their licenses or have been reprimanded for practice without a license, or partaking in illegal activities such as fraudulent documents. Physicians cannot legally prescribe marijuana, they attest to the disease state the patient has, they do not prescribe in most states except New York. The Drug Enforcement Administration still classifies Marijuana as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act. (Mark Crane, Doctors legal risks with medical marijuana, June 4, 2015)

Download our Doctor FAQs Document

Will I lose my job?

If you are a hospital employee or affiliated with a health care system such as the VA, that changes and varies if you have an employee contract. To error on the side of caution, You should speak to your legal counsel. Medical Marijuana has been legal since 1995 in California. Our membership allows you to seek attorneys in your state if you do not have one, or speak to other health care practitioners to network with so you can incorporate Medical Marijuana into your medical practice.

Download our Doctor FAQs Document

Is it safe?

There have been no known cases of a lethal overdose of cannabis. DEA Chief Administrative Law Judge, Francis Young, in response to a petition to reschedule cannabis under federal law concluded in 1988 that, “In strict medical terms marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume…. Marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within the supervised routine of medical care.”

Download our Doctor FAQs Document

What doctors may and may not do?

In Conant v. Walters, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the federal government could neither punish nor threaten a doctor merely for recommending the use of cannabis to a patient.[4, 5] But it remains illegal for a doctor to “aid and abet” a patient in obtaining cannabis.[6] This means physicians and other medical professionals may discuss the pros and cons of medical cannabis with any patient, and recommend its use whenever appropriate. They may put that in writing or otherwise participate in state medical cannabis programs without fear of legal reprisal.[7] This is true even when the recommending medical professional knows the patient will use the recommendation to obtain cannabis through a state program.[8] What physicians may not do is provide cannabis directly to a patient[9] or tell patients how or where to obtain it.[10]

Download our Doctor FAQs Document

How many states have enacted medical marijuana laws since 1996?

25 total states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. The District of Columbia have passed laws providing for limited legal protections from arrest for authorized patients who use cannabis with a doctor’s recommendation.

May a legislature reschedule marijuana for medical purposes under state law?

Yes, although this is largely a symbolic gesture. Rescheduling marijuana statewide does not protect patients from criminal prosecution under federal law or allow doctors in that state to legally prescribe the drug.

Can a state legally license the production and distribution of medical marijuana?

Currently, some states, including Colorado, Maine, and New Mexico license producers and distributors of medical cannabis. Several other states are considering or are in the process of enacting similar programs. The present administration has given mixed signals to lawmakers regarding whether the Department of Justice would seek sanctions against those involved with such programs. However, as of this writing, the federal government has yet to prosecute any individuals involved with the state-licensed production or distribution of medical cannabis in any state that has sanctioned such activities.

What is medical marijuana?

Medical marijuana is a prescription drug consisting of the dried buds of the female cannabis plant. The active ingredient is THC, a cannabinoid, which interacts with the system in the brain involved with pain transmission. Marijuana provides relief from several serious symptoms such as severe pain, chronic nausea, loss of appetite, muscle spasms and others.

How does medical cannabis work?

From United Patients Group:

There are over 400 natural compounds in medical marijuana and, of these, eighty are only found in cannabis plants. These eighty special compounds are known as cannabinoids. Cannabinoids relieve symptoms of illness by attaching to receptors in the brain that look for similar compounds that occur in the human body, such as dopamine.

There are five major cannabinoids in medical marijuana that are particularly effective for relieving symptoms of illness, and each one produces different physical and psychological effects. This is why certain strains of medical marijuana are bred to have different amounts of each cannabinoid and are recommended for different conditions

THC stands for delta-9-tetrahydrocannibinol. It is probably the best known cannabinoid present in medical marijuana. Physically it acts as a muscle relaxant and anti-inflammatory and psychologically it acts as a stimulant. This makes medical marijuana strains high in THC a good choice for patients who need relief while also to remain alert and active.

What are the side effects of medical marijuana use?

The side effects of marijuana vary quite a bit among different strains of Cannabis and different people. Negative effects range from drowsiness and loss of focus to agitation leading to fear and paranoia. Such effects are temporary and go away within a few hours. Smoking marijuana carries many of the same risks as smoking cigarettes and is not advisable. Because of the adverse health effects of smoking, other methods of ingesting marijuana are preferable.

How does one take medical marijuana?

There are many methods of ingesting marijuana including eating, drinking, vaporizing and smoking. We also have techniques and recipes for preparing marijuana in edible forms, in tinctures and for vaporization.

How much marijuana do you need to take and how often do you take it?

Medical marijuana prescriptions vary depending on the patient’s condition and the strain of marijuana. Your doctor can help you determine the right dosage for your situation. The average use of marijuana for medical purposes is from 1 to 3 grams per day. If you are just beginning to use marijuana, you should start with a small dose and increase it gradually until you reach a comfortable level. The limit set by the MMPR is 30 times the daily quantity of dried marijuana indicated by your doctor on your medical document OR 150 grams – whichever is less.

Can you use marijuana while on other medications?

Some pain medications have been proven to be more effective in combination with marijuana. However, with all medication, different combinations can have unpredictable effects. You should always consult your doctor before combining any medications.

For what conditions is medical cannabis used for?

  • Chronic Pain
  • Arthritis/Inflammatory conditions
  • Crohn’s Disease/Colitis/IBS
  • PTSD
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Stress
  • Brain Injury
  • Alzheimers
  • ALS
  • Autism
  • Cancer
  • Brain Tumor
  • MS
  • HIV
  • RCPS (aka RSD)
  • Epilepsy
  • Parkinson’s Disease

Should I be worried about addiction and withdrawl side effects?

The current statistic of a 9% addiction rate among cannabis users needs to be viewed from a certain perspective. If a product such as cannabis resolves an undiagnosed depression or anxiety, then we cannot use the term “addiction” when the patient resists removal or denial of a product that makes him/her feel better. The percentage of undiagnosed depression/anxiety in the general population has been quoted to be as high as 30% and cannabis has been shown to help this diagnosis in adults.

In my personal experience, withdrawal is rare, and simply represents the return of the underlying symptoms that existed well before marijuana was ever used. Even in the rare situation that might have been said to be a possible case of withdrawal, the symptoms of craving and agitation lasted only about 3 to 4 days and were not very uncomfortable. This is vastly different to narcotics, benzodiazepines or even antidepressants.

An incidental note here is that if you ask the average PTSD patient without chronic pain if they could see their life without medical cannabis, they will usually state that they would much rather not have need for any treatments, and that they would like to return to a life without any medical treatments at all, including cannabis.

Is it safe to use medical cannabis?

There have been countless studies about the benefits of medical cannabis. Currently, it is being used to treat many illnesses; such as symptoms of PTSD, cancer, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, chronic pain, arthritis, depression and many others. In addition, there has been no recorded deaths from cannabis use or abuse. If you are unsure about the benefits of medical cannabis, contact your physician to discuss it further.

How does medical marijuana benefit your health?

Marijuana has been found valuable in the treatment of many illnesses and conditions throughout history. Although many of the benefits we hear about are anecdotal, a large global effort is underway to understand the medical benefits of marijuana using scientific and clinical approaches. The major benefits have been associated with reductions in pain, help with sleeping disorders, side-effects from pharmaceuticals or cancer treatments, and other symptom relief.

Will smoking cannabis cause lung cancer?

I fully agree that smoking any product may increase the risk of lung and cardiovascular problems. The healthiest solution is to “Vaporize” the product which is very effective and provides an almost equal response time as smoking, with the added advantages of a much more efficient use of the costly product. There is also lingering smell and the added advantages of a much more measured and controlled dose with the newer devices.

The risk/benefit ratio is unknown.

Who should avoid marijuana?

Patients with a history of heart disease, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or other disease of the airways, drug or alcohol abuse or dependence, or a serious mental disorder, such as schizophrenia should all consult their doctor before trying medical marijuana. You should also avoid marijuana if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, planning to get pregnant, or if you are allergic to any cannabinoid.

Is marijuana legal?

Marijuana is still a controlled substance, and possession of marijuana for recreational purposes is a criminal offense. Marijuana is only legal when used by an authorized patient for medical purposes.

Is my medicine covered by my medical plan?

At this time most medical plans will not cover medical cannabis costs. If you are a veteran, you may have coverage through Veterans Affairs Canada. Medical cannabis is regulated under the Narcotic Control Regulations and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, but it does not have a Drug Identification Number (DIN) which is required for provincial and third-party formularies (medical plans). Medical cannabis expenses can be claimed on your income tax return under the Medical Tax Credit.

How do I prove to authorities that I am authorized to possess medical cannabis?

Your proof of “authorization to possess” can either be the label on the product packaging or a separate document from the licensed producer. This official document will accompany your initial shipment.

Are there alternative methods to using marijuana besides smoking?

Always store your marijuana in a cool, dry and above all SECURE place. Consider using a safe or other locked secure container to store your medicine. Ensure that any edible product is also well marked and secured against mistaken identity.

What are the differences between Indica and Sativa?

There are two basic types of Cannabis plants, Sativa and Indica. Sativas are taller plants originating from Mexico, Columbia and Southeast Asia. Sativas usually have a higher THC content and cause a stimulating, uplifting effect. Indicas are shorter, dense plants originating from Afghanistan, Morocco, Tibet, etc. Indicas have a more sedative or relaxing effect and can be used for anxiety reduction. Within these two types of Cannabis exist many sub-types or strains of Sativa and Indica. Many of these strains are given seemingly odd or interesting names, usually based on a slang description.

What does 'combining strains' mean?

Alone, none of the five major cannabinoids are as effective as when they work together. These five cannabinoids also work with the minor compounds in marijuana, and this is probably one reason that medical marijuana replacements like Marinol do not work very well.

Professional medical marijuana growers can analyze their medical marijuana strains to breed and grow medication for patients with the desired range of levels of each major cannabinoid. Using this knowledge of what each compound does helps medical marijuana pharmacists, or budtenders, find the right combination for patients to treat specific conditions and find maximum relief.

What is CBD? How does it work?

CBD stands for cannabidiol. Cannabidiol actually reduces the psychological effects of medical marijuana. For most patients, a strain that has high THC and high cannabidiol will have fewer “mental” effects and more physical ones. High cannabidiol medical marijuana strains, like Blueberry and Harlequin, are especially effective for illnesses with strong physical symptoms

Cannabidiol’s effects include:

  • Reduced pain
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Reduced nausea
  • Sedative effects
  • Anti-convulsive
  • Anti-schizophrenic
  • Arrests the spread of cancer

What is CBN? How does it work?

CBN is cannabinol, not to be confused with Cannabidiol. Cannabinol is very similar to THC, but has less psychological effects. It is produced as THC breaks down within the medical marijuana plant. High THC will make cannabinol’s effects stronger, and very high cannabinol concentrations can produce undesirably strong head highs. Cannabinol levels tend to be high in medical marijuana strains like

For example, Strawberry Haze and Blue Rhino, which can be particularly helpful for:

  • Lowering pressure in the eye (such as with glaucoma)
  • Analgesic
  • Anti-seizure