Cannabis Patient FAQs

These FAQs contain the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we hear from patients and caregivers. 

FAQs about Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Program

How do I qualify for a medical marijuana card in Pennsylvania?

You must have one of the following conditions to qualify for a medical marijuana card in Pennsylvania.

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Autism
  • Cancer, including remission therapy
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Damage to the nervous tissue of the central nervous system (brain-spinal cord) with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity, and other associated neuropathies
  • Dyskinetic and spastic movement disorders
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV / AIDS
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Intractable seizures
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Neurodegenerative diseases
  • Neuropathies
  • Opioid use disorder for which conventional therapeutic interventions are contraindicated or ineffective, or for which adjunctive therapy is indicated in combination with primary therapeutic interventions
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Severe chronic or intractable pain of neuropathic origin or severe chronic or intractable pain
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Terminal illness
  • Tourette syndrome

The Pennsylvania Department of Health has a full list available on their website.

How do I become a medical marijuana patient in Pennsylvania?

Step 1: Discuss medical cannabis with your physician

The list of qualifying conditions for PA’s medical marijuana program is available on their website.

Step 2: Register with the PA Department of Health

Visit the PA Department of Health website and create a profile. While filling out the registration form, enter the information on your driver’s license as you see it, capitalizations and abbreviations too. Any deviation from is printed on your ID card will cause the form to reject your application.

Step 3: Visit with a certifying physician

Most patients will need to visit a physician other than their medical provider to complete the certification. The certifying physician will use the same website where you created your profile to complete your certification

Call your nearest dispensary, or see the Department of Health list of certifying physicians to locate the one closest to you.

That’s it. Your card will arrive at the address printed on your ID within three to five days.

How do I become a caregiver for a medical marijuana patient in Pennsylvania?

In order to register as a patient’s caregiver, you must have a Pennsylvania driver’s license or a Pennsylvania state-issued ID card with your current address. If the patient is already registered, you will need the patient’s name, date of birth and patient ID number.

For more information about becoming a registered caregiver, see the Department of Health’s guide for caregivers.

FAQs About Safety

Is vaping safe?

Yes, vaping is safe.

Vaping has been in use in multiple medical markets for over a decade. In 2019, there was a spike in vaping related injuries and illnesses. In all cases, the people with VAPI conditions were using cartridges purchased on the illicit market. In most cases, the victims of these tainted cartridges did not have access to a regulated market, or the market proved inaccessible and cost-prohibitive.

The following news stories cover this issue in greater detail:

Is vaping flower safe?

Yes, vaping flower is safe.

Vaping flower has been the medically recommended method of cannabis consumption since the late 90s. Vaping related illnesses are limited to contaminated carts used by unregulated bootleggers.

Is it safe to drive while under the influence of cannabis?

No, it is not safe to drive while you are under the influence of cannabis.

Cannabis impairs a person’s ability to drive a vehicle safely when consumed in sufficient quantities. 

Soulful Cannabis discourages any patient from operating a vehicle or heavy machinery while you are impaired by cannabis.

Is cannabis dangerous or addictive?

No, cannabis is a safe and non-addictive medication.

All medicines –herbal or pharmaceutical– have the potential for abuse or overconsumption. Cannabis is safe to use in varying quantities to promote health and wellness and address a range of severe health issues. Cannabis has a growing body of medical evidence to support its efficacy.

The following facts are true about cannabis as a medication:

  • Cannabis is nonaddictive
  • There is no documented “lethal dose” of cannabis
  • Cannabis does not cause brain damage
  • Cannabis does not permanently damage your memory
  • Cannabis does not cause infertility

FAQs about Consumption

How much cannabis can I safely consume?

Everyone has a different tolerance to cannabis, test your limits slowly.

Cannabis has no documented lethal dose and is safe to use even in very high amounts. Despite cannabis being safe, everyone reacts differently to cannabis. Some people are highly sensitive to cannabis; others have a high tolerance.

To find your preferred cannabis does, you should use a micro-dosing strategy to see how cannabis will affect you.

How long do cannabis's effects last?

Cannabis’s effects will vary by mode of consumption.

Results of any individual product will vary from person to person and these are presented as general estimates.

  • Vaping: 3 – 4 hours
  • Sublingual: 3 – 4 hours
  • Digestion: 4 – 8 hours
  • Topical: 3 – 4 hours
What happens if I over consume cannabis?

Over consuming cannabis is not harmful, but it is unpleasant. 

Overconsumption can vary in its effects. How much a patient must consume to have “overconsumed” cannabis will vary from person to person and is largely a matter of tolerance levels.

Mild overconsumption may induce feelings of anxiety and paranoia.

High overconsumption may induce feelings of vertigo, dizziness, feeling detached from your body, and intense feelings of agitation and anxiety.

What do I do if a patient over consumes cannabis?

Stay calm; there has never been a recorded cannabis overdose. Do not call emergency services. 

Try the following:

  • Stay calm; panic only makes it worse
  • Consume some CBD; vaping provides fast onset
  • Drink water
  • Chew black peppercorns
  • Sleep if you feel drowsy
  • Go walking if you feel overstimulated
  • Take a bath or a shower if you feel anxious
  • Distract your self with music, games, or other media

The effects will wear off with no permanent after-effects. Feeling tired or “hazy” for several hours afterward is common. All effects should wear off within 24 to 48 hours.

FAQs about Products

Are edibles available at the dispensaries?

Edibles in the form of food are not allowed to be sold in PA dispensaries.

However, there are edibles available in other forms, including capsules and edible oils.

Is cannabis flower available at the dispensary?

Yes, Flower became legal to sell in PA dispensaries on August 1, 2018.

Is CBD available at the dispensaries?

Yes, CBD rich products are available in dispensaries and the will also contain THC.

All products sold in a medical dispensary are produced from medical cannabis, not hemp. There is no evidence to suggest that hemp-extracted CBD or CBD-only products provide any medical benefit.

FAQs about Psychoactivity

What's the difference between hemp and medical cannabis?

Hemp is grown largely for industrial purposes and contains less than 0.3% THC. Hemp does not have medical applications.

Medical cannabis is grown for human consumption and contains more than 0.3% THC. Medical cannabis is grown specifically to maximize cannabinoids, the beneficial compounds in cannabis.

What does being high feel like?

The psychoactive effects of cannabis being “high” or “stoned”, are unique. Comparing cannabis’s effects to those of alcohol isn’t an accurate comparison for a wide range of reasons, but primarily because regular alcohol consumption has few recognized medical benefits.

Cannabis’s effects are wide-ranging, but commonly include sensations of euphoria and relaxation. Some negative side effects that result from overconsumption may include feelings of anxiety, paranoia, and agitation.

In addition to euphoria and relaxation, cannabis can impart other effects. Some cannabis can be stimulating and result in effects similar to drinking coffee or energy drinks. Other types of cannabis can result in feelings of sedation, numbness, and drowsiness.

Does cannabis damage your mental health?

No, cannabis does not damage your mental health.

Cannabis is a safe and effective treatment for a range of mental health conditions. Except in rare cases, most people respond well to small to moderate quantities of cannabinoids in their wellness routine.

The key to maximizing the mental health benefits of cannabis lays in the answers to the following questions:

  • What is the specific mental health outcome I’m trying to achieve?
  • Can cannabis deliver the outcome I’m seeking?
  • How strongly do I want to feel the psychoactive effects of cannabis?
  • What methods of consumption am I comfortable with?

With clear answers to these questions, a patient is better equipped to use cannabis in a thoughtful and intentful manner.

Are there non-psychoactive cannabis products?

Yes, there are cannabis products with few to no perceivable psychoactive effects.

The only psychoactive cannabinoid is THC, while there is a range of other cannabinoids with similar medical and health benefits, but without the sensations of the euphoria associated with THC.

Current theory holds that all the cannabinoids work in concert with other naturally occurring compounds to deliver their benefits. This means that effective cannabis products contain a level of THC which may impart some small psychoactive effects for patients particularly sensitive to THC.

Can I use just CBD without any THC and achieve the same results?

No, there is no evidence that CBD distillates, especially those derived from industrial hemp, provide any health or medical benefits. 

“Healing without the high” is a catchy marketing slogan, but it’s simply not true.

Current theory holds that all the cannabinoids, and other naturally occurring compounds found in cannabis, work together to deliver their benefits.

THC is not dangerous, nor does it cause any damage to your body or mind. Most “CBD-only” products still contain enough THC such that their users will fail drug tests even if the manufacturer claims their products have zero THC.

FAQs about Travel

Can patients travel with their medical cannabis?

It depends on the laws in the area where a patient plans to travel.

Americans for Safe Access recommends that patients familiarize themselves with local laws to make an informed decision about medical cannabis use at their intended destination.

For a details guide on traveling with medical cannabis, please see the Americans for Safe Access Medical Cannabis Patient’s Guide for U.S. Travel.

Can patients take their product on airplanes or trains?

TSA allows for prescribed FDA-approved cannabis products (e.g., Epidiolex) and CBD products made from industrial hemp containing less than 0.3% THC.

While TSA agents do not actively screen for drugs, they are required to report them to local law enforcement. Some airports have amnesty boxes where you can dispose of any cannabis without legal consequences.

Each carrier has different policies and patients are encouraged to research their carrier’s cannabis transportation policy.

For a details guide on traveling with medical cannabis, please see the Americans for Safe Access Medical Cannabis Patient’s Guide for U.S. Travel.

Can patients access medical cannabis dispensaries in other states?

Access to medical cannabis dispensaries will vary from state to state.

Some states offer reciprocity, but this is not a universal policy. For a full list of state-level policies on reciprocity and possession limits, please see the Americans for Safe Access Medical Cannabis Patient’s Guide for U.S. Travel.