Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Assistance Program (MMAP)
Patients and caregivers in the medical marijuana program have a new option for applying to receive a patient identification card for free. They also can save on background check fees.
To obtain a medical marijuana card, you need to get a written certification from a doctor. But not just any doctor can help — they need to be registered with the state and undergo training.
What is the MMAP?
Medical marijuana can help ease the pain of many severe conditions, but it can be expensive. The MMAP, or medical marijuana assistance program, aims to make it easier for low-income patients to get their medication.
To qualify for the program, a patient must have a debilitating condition and be registered with a health care practitioner who is a participant of the MMAP. The certifying physician must also have a bona fide relationship with the patient.
A stipend is given to each eligible patient each month. This stipend can be applied to the cost of marijuana at the register when purchasing through one of the state’s dispensaries. Patients can use their stipend in combination with other discounts. Dispensaries must develop and follow internal policies to ensure that approved medical cannabis products are not resold or used for illicit purposes. If unused, the product can be destroyed using designated facility policies and procedures or at DEA drug take-back events.
Who is eligible for the MMAP?
The cost of medical marijuana can be prohibitive for some patients, especially those whose insurance doesn’t cover it. In response, Pennsylvania’s Office of Medical Marijuana has launched a financial assistance program to help defray those costs.
The MMAP, whose first phase was implemented on March 1, eliminates annual identification card fees for eligible participants who register in an existing Commonwealth financial hardship program and waives all background check fees for eligible caregivers. The next phase will distribute a to-be-determined benefit amount per funding period to eligible patients.
In addition to reducing the cost of obtaining a medical marijuana ID card, the MMAP also covers the costs of the federal background checks that need to be completed before a patient can begin purchasing at a licensed dispensary in the state. This is an important step in helping disadvantaged communities take advantage of the medical marijuana program. Patients can use their MMAP balance to purchase any marijuana products at participating PA dispensaries, but devices and accessories cannot be purchased with the stipend.
How do I apply for the MMAP?
To qualify for the MMAP, patients must meet certain requirements. First, they must be diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition by a health care practitioner registered with the Medicinal Marijuana Program. This health care practitioner must have a bona fide relationship with the patient and assume responsibility for the management and care of the patient’s debilitating medical condition.
This can be done in person or via telemedicine. The health care provider will also complete a patient certification and upload it to the Medical Cannabis Data Management System. The patient must pay a $50 fee to register, but can apply for a waiver if they cannot afford it.
Patients must also register a designated primary caregiver who will be responsible for purchasing, growing and maintaining the marijuana. Caregivers must provide a valid state ID and undergo a background check. They must also agree to comply with the program rules and guidelines. Registered organizations may offer discounts to primary caregivers and patients.
What are the benefits of the MMAP?
In a state where medical marijuana is not covered by insurance, and the cost of obtaining cannabis products can be prohibitively expensive for low-income residents, this program provides a much-needed financial benefit.
As part of the MMAP, the state will waive annual identification card fees for patients and caregivers who are enrolled in a Commonwealth financial hardship program. This includes programs such as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), Medicaid and WIC.
MMAP will also allow visiting patients to purchase therapeutic cannabis from New Hampshire’s ATCs three times per year if the visitors have a valid therapeutic cannabis identification card from another state or Canada.
The MMAP’s third phase will distribute a to-be-determined benefit amount on a funding cycle per eligible patient or primary caregiver. This benefits include a 50% discount on the annual ID card fee and 65% of federal background check fees for caregivers. Interested patients or primary caregivers should contact the registered organization they wish to receive their benefits from.