Pennsylvania’s HB 1024 bill aims to lower prices for patients enrolled in the state’s medical marijuana program
A bill that would update Pennsylvania’s five-year-old medical marijuana act has already made its way through the legislative process. The state House of Representatives passed it last June.
House Bill 1024 is all about creating more jobs and lowering prices for the half a million Pennsylvanians who are part of the medical marijuana program.
This package of amendments increases access to medicine for patients and will make medical marijuana less expensive by allowing more on the market and getting rid of some of the costly testing regulations.
The law went into effect upon his signature. Below is a summary of The Medical Marijuana Act as amended by HB 1024:
What is MMAP?
With the passage of Act 16 of 2016, The Medical Marijuana Program Fund was created as a special fund in the State Treasury. The Office of Medical Marijuana was tasked with assisting patients by using an allotted percentage of this fund to establish:
- A program to assist with the cost of providing medical marijuana to patients who demonstrate financial hardship or need.
- A program to assist patients and caregivers with the cost associated with the waiver or reduction of fees for identification cards.
- A program to provide for the cost of background checks for caregivers.
The Office of Medical Marijuana has been providing patient assistance since the program’s inception in December of 2017, and with the passage of Act 44 of 2021 we are poised to expand the Pennsylvania MMAP in a significant manner.
How is the Office of Medical Marijuana currently offering financial assistance to patients and caregivers?
From the program’s inception the following measures have been in place:
- Patients and caregivers who are registered with an existing Commonwealth financial hardship program are provided a 50% discount on their annual identification card fee and 65% of Federal background check fees for caregivers are covered.
How is MMAP expanding?
The MMAP is expanding by eliminating the annual card fee for eligible participants, eliminating all federal background check fees for eligible caregivers and assisting eligible patients with the purchase of medical marijuana from Pennsylvania dispensaries.
How will the MMAP work?
To expedite assistance, we are rolling out the expansion of MMAP in three phases:
- Phase 1 will eliminate annual identification card fees for eligible participants registered with an existing Commonwealth financial hardship program.
- Phase 2 will eliminate all background check fees for eligible caregivers.
- Phase 3 will distribute a to-be-determined benefit amount per funding period per eligible patient.
Who is eligible to participate in the MMAP?
- MMAP eligibility for the identification card fee and monthly assistance will be determined by registration in an existing Commonwealth financial hardship program.
- All eligible caregivers will have 100% of their background check and fingerprinting fees eliminated.
*The Department of Health may waive or reduce the fee for an identification card application or an identification card renewal application for an applicant who demonstrates financial hardship…the Department has determined that an applicant may demonstrate financial hardship by verifying, subject to the penalties of perjury, that the applicant is currently participating in one or more of the following programs:
- Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
- Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE)
- PACE Needs Enhancement Tier (PACENET)
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
*PA Bulletin: [49 Pa.B. 343] – 28 Pa. Code § 1191.26(d)
All eligible caregivers will have 100% of their background check and fingerprinting fees eliminated.
What monthly assistance will I receive if I am eligible for the MMAP?
MMAP funds available to each eligible patient will be based on the total dollars allotted to the program through a funding formula established in Act 16 of 2016.
Are there restrictions on the products I can buy with MMAP assistance?
Your MMAP balance can be applied to any medical marijuana product from Pennsylvania dispensaries. o Non-medical products such as devices and accessories cannot be purchased with MMAP funds.
When will the expansion of MMAP start?
- We expect Phase 1 to be in place by the end of Q1 calendar year 2022.
- We are in the process of determining how quickly Phase 2 can be implemented.
- Phase 3 implementation is in process as we design the infrastructure and support system that MMAP requires to be successful.