Pennsylvania

Is weed legal in Pennsylvania?

Medical marijuana is legal in Pennsylvania, but adult-use (recreational) cannabis remains illegal under Pennsylvania marijuana laws. 

Is weed decriminalized in Pennsylvania?

Possession of small amounts of marijuana is decriminalized in certain cities, including Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, York, State College, Erie, Lancaster, Bethlehem, and Steelton. The Philadelphia law passed in 2014 made the city the largest to decriminalize possession of cannabis at the time.

Legislation history

The Pennsylvania General Assembly passed the Medical Marijuana Act (Act 16) on April 17, 2016, legalizing the possession, sale, and consumption of medical cannabis. It tasked the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) with overseeing the program.

Where is it safe to purchase weed in Pennsylvania?

Patients and caregivers must be added to the state's registry and obtain a medical cannabis ID card in order to purchase medical marijuana from DOH-licensed dispensaries.

If patients are unable to make purchases themselves, they may designate a caregiver to purchase medical cannabis on their behalf and deliver it to them. There are currently no delivery services available to patients other than through a designated caregiver.

Consumers are not subject to any excise tax on medical cannabis purchases, although the law requires growers/processors to pay a 5% excise tax on the gross receipts from the sale of medical marijuana to the dispensary. 

Finding licensed dispensaries in Pennsylvania

Medical marijuana cardholders can find licensed dispensaries in Pennsylvania and search by major metro areas including Harrisburg, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. 

Where is it safe to consume marijuana in Pennsylvania?

Act 16 does not stipulate where cannabis consumption is allowed; however, cannabis consumption should take place in a private space such as a personal residence.

Possession of marijuana in Pennsylvania

Lawful possession of medical marijuana limits patients to a 30-day supply. Cultivating marijuana is illegal and a felony unless given explicit authorization through the DOH.

Medical marijuana registry

Pennsylvania's Department of Health administers the statewide Medical Marijuana Program. Only patients and caregivers who are Pennsylvania residents can obtain medical cannabis from dispensaries in the state. 

Each patient must have his or her medical condition verified by a DOH-approved physician in order to acquire a written certification for medical cannabis. A list of all the DOH-approved physicians in the state is available online. You can also find a local physician by visiting our map.

Pennsylvania has set up a patient and caregivers' registry. Patients or caregivers must register for the Medical Marijuana Program before seeking a physician's certification, which confirms the patient has at least one of the required qualifying conditions to obtain cannabis.

Qualifying conditions

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease)
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Autism
  • Cancer, including remission therapy
  • Chronic or intractable pain
  • Crohn's disease
  • Damage to the brain or spinal cord
  • Dyskinetic and spastic movement disorders
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Huntington's disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Intractable seizures
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Neurodegenerative diseases
  • Neuropathy
  • Opioid addiction
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Spastic movement disorders
  • Terminal illness
  • Tourette syndrome

Application process

Caregiving

Patients in the registry who require assistance obtaining or using medical cannabis may designate up to two caregivers. Caregivers must be at least 21 years old and may only provide care for up to five patients.

DOH-approved caregivers can purchase medical cannabis at an approved dispensary, as well as possess, transport, and administer patients' medical marijuana after purchase.

Application process

Safe Harbor

The Pennsylvania Safe Harbor Letter conveys the state's approval for caregivers to possess and administer medical marijuana. It is available to parents, legal guardians, caregivers, and spouses of a minor younger than 18 who suffers from one of the medical conditions defined in the Medical Marijuana Act.

Application process

Applicants must provide electronic copies of the following: 

  • A completed Safe Harbor Physician Form
  • A completed Pennsylvania background check (caregivers cannot have a drug-related conviction that occurred within the last five years)
  • One of these required documents: guardianship papers, copy of their caregiver status, or copy of their marriage certificate (for spouses)

Reciprocity

Pennsylvania does not offer reciprocating recognition of other states' medical marijuana programs. The medical marijuana program is only open to Pennsylvania residents.

Lab testing

All growers and processors are required to contract with a DOH-approved laboratory to test medical cannabis they produce. Cannabis is tested after harvest and after processing.

It is tested for the following:

  • Cannabinoid concentration (THC and CBD)
  • Heavy metals
  • Microbiological contaminants
  • Mycotoxins
  • Pesticides
  • Solvents
  • Terpenes
  • Water activity and moisture content

Frequently asked questions

How do you get a medical marijuana card in PA? 

Register for the Medical Marijuana Program, visit a DOH-approved physician to have your qualifying condition verified, and submit the $50 registration fee.

How do you get medical marijuana in Pennsylvania?

Once you've registered for the Medical Marijuana Program and received your card, you can purchase medical marijuana at a state-approved dispensary. Medical marijuana cardholders can find licensed dispensaries in Pennsylvania and search by major metro areas including Harrisburg, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. 

When will marijuana be legal in Pennsylvania?

While we can't predict the future, we do know that Pennsylvanians can't petition to get a medical marijuana initiative added to the ballot. Any path to legalize marijuana would have to go through the state legislature. 

What are the charges for possession of an eighth of an ounce of marijuana in PA?

An eighth of an ounce is 3.5 grams and the penalty for possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana is a misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. Please consult a legal professional for advice about specific cases.

This page was last updated March 8, 2021. 

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The information contained in this site is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical or legal advice. This page was last updated on March 10, 2021.