Marijuana has been my relaxation drug of choice since I was a teenager. And now, as an adult, I appreciate it even more because it’s a substance that helps me to relax without causing a hangover or the other ill effects I typically feel from alcohol.
The only problem is that it is illegal to purchase and use in the state of Pennsylvania. With a bill to legalize recreational marijuana just introduced in the state yesterday, there is a chance we could eventually have some of the most progressive legislation in the country. However, with the Republican-held congress still turning their noses at this, I’m not holding my breath – I need another way to keep inhaling.
With a myriad of chronic illnesses, I knew I was a candidate for obtaining a medical marijuana card. Especially when anxiety was added to the docket. And after reading all the horror stories about the dangers of vape pens, I didn’t want to take any more chances with what kind of shady chemicals could be added to the stuff I smoke. I mean, I don’t necessarily trust the FDA, but I trust them more than your cousin’s back alley dealer.
So here’s what I learned about getting medical marijuana in Pennsylvania.
Most “regular” doctors can’t certify you for a marijuana card. You probably need to go to a special “marijuana doctor” – which you can find on Google or Yelp. These places will essentially certify anyone who can prove they have one of the qualifying conditions. Since anxiety is a qualifying condition and it is, in fact, 2019, you almost certainly have this.
Simply bring evidence of your diagnoses from any of your regular doctors, which can come in the form of your medical records or any other valid physician note, and you will probably have no problem being approved. I will not endorse the place I went because I later learned that it is owned by a Trump-supporting “incel” who lost his practicing license.
However, if this facility is any indicator, anyone can walk in, pay $200, and be certified within minutes. You will be directed to the Department of Health web site where you pay $50 for your card, which you should receive within a week.
You will need to get re-certified by one of these doctors every year as well as pay for the card renewal, so expect to pay another $150 annually.
It is an expensive habit. And here’s where the whole socio-economic privilege thing becomes really problematic.
Just because you are qualified to smoke legally does not mean you can afford it. So, in the meantime, people without means and resources will continue to be penalized and prosecuted for smoking the same plants that I can smoke perfectly legally just because I can scrounge up an extra $200 a year. So this continues to be a massive problem and I will share more information on how we can try to fight this at the bottom of this post.
Once you have your card, you can go to any licensed medical marijuana dispensary where they have pharmacists on staff to help you choose the strains and forms which may work best for you. I learned that edibles are not legal in Pennsylvania, so if you prefer to get your dose without smoking you can use a tincture or use the other liquid forms available to make your own edibles.
I went to Beyond/Hello in Philadelphia where everyone was super helpful and cool. And also where the name was definitely thought up by somebody very, very stoned.
I had so many questions about the various application methods, strains, terpenes (?), and more, but even with my general lack of knowledge beyond anything but “buying an 8th of my brother’s friend,” it was a pretty simple process. And the prices seemed pretty much in line with what I was used to paying for pretty good “street” stuff.
A few things to keep in mind before you go:
So now that you can smoke legally, let’s try to make it so that everyone else can too!
The most important thing you can do is reach out to your elected officials, especially if you live in a district where your representatives do not support recreational marijuana (hint: Republican reps). Find your legislators here.
Here are some petitions to legalize recreational marijuana in Pennsylvania:
Submit your feedback directly to Governor Tom Wolf
MoveOn Petition to support the current bill
From House Rep. Wheatley (Allegheny)