Pennsylvania implements medical marijuana

Last update: November 10, 2016


On May 17, 2016, Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act, Act 16, went into effect. The Department of Health has until November 17 to start publishing temporary regulations. The department issued one set of regulations already, which are meant to protect the parents of minor patients via a safe-harbor letter. Unfortunately, the state has yet to take any action to provide adults with interim protections. Adult patients will likely not have legal protections until after the department approves further regulations and a four-hour course physicians must take.

Before doctors can recommend medical marijuana to patients, they must participate in a four-hour course developed by the Department of Health. This will likely become available in the fall or winter. After a doctor has taken the course and registered with the department, he or she can write recommendations for patients who suffer from qualifying conditions. After receiving the doctor recommendation, a patient will then register with the department to receive a certification from the state, which will allow the patient access to state-permitted dispensaries.

The health department will regulate 25 processors/growers, along with 50 dispensaries, which may have up to three locations each. If you’d like to know more about Act 16, details are available here.

Many thanks to all the patients and loved ones, legislators and staff, advocates, and MPP donors who made this compassionate law possible!

MPP has developed a number of fact sheets for Pennsylvania patients, caregivers, doctors, and employers. Please print and share these materials with others, including your physician.

You can also learn more on MPP’s medical marijuana page.



On May 17, 2016, Rep. Ed Gainey, one of the lead sponsors of medical marijuana legislation in Pennsylvania, introduced HB 2706, a bill that would decriminalize the possession of marijuana. Currently, an individual arrested for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana can still be sentenced to a maximum of 30 days in jail and fined up to $500. Rep. Gainey’s bill would reduce the penalty to a fine not to exceed $100.

This long-overdue change would dramatically reduce the number of Pennsylvanians who have their dreams derailed by a criminal record. A 2013 study by the American Civil Liberties Union found that although blacks and whites use marijuana at nearly identical rates, enforcement is far from equal: blacks in Pennsylvania are 5.2 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession.

Localities in Pennsylvania are leading the charge for more sensible marijuana policies. Since October 2014, the local governments in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, and the State College Borough have each approved measures to reduce the penalty for personal use possession of marijuana to a simple fine. Our friends at the Keystone Cannabis Coalition have played a leading role in these reforms.

Tell your state legislators it’s time the full Commonwealth follow suit.

Take action!


Stay connected:

To stay updated on the status of marijuana policy reform in Pennsylvania, be sure to subscribe to MPP’s free legislative alert service now.

Take action:

Write your representatives and tell them to support the decriminalization of marijuana!

Contact us:

If you are a medical professional or a patient who might benefit from medical marijuana, or if you know somebody who might benefit from medical marijuana and you want to get involved, contact us at [email protected]. Please include your zip code so we can determine who your lawmakers are.

Additionally, if you are a doctor, veteran, law enforcement official, a person who was arrested for marijuana possession, or an attorney, please email [email protected] to learn how you can be of special help.

Pending Legislation