In early 2022, Mississippi became the 37th state to legalize medical marijuana. Legalization is just the first step in a months-long process before it reaches dispensaries and citizens.
Pennsylvania marijuana laws came to fruition long before Mississippi. However, the laws are still changing, and knowing what medical marijuana forms we can buy makes all the difference in using our medical marijuana cards. Are edibles legalized in Pennsylvania?
Luckily, we have put together a complete guide that addresses medical marijuana legalization, consumption forms, and a tasty recipe that we don’t want you to miss! Keep reading our complete guide for the most up-to-date information!
What Is Cannabis?
Most people have heard of cannabis and have a general semblance of it and where it comes from. However, with laws constantly fluctuating, it helps to have a broader understanding of this plant that has gained quite the spotlight in recent years.
At its core – cannabis comes from the Cannabis sativa plant. Cannabis’ dried tops, leaves, stems, and seeds have various purposes, including medical and recreational use. Medical marijuana has become more popular since it can uplift moods and ease symptoms from various illnesses, diseases, or general discomfort.
There are a few types of cannabis consumption, including:
- Brewed tea
- Capsules or pills
Before diving into medical uses, there are two main ingredients, or cannabinoids, in the cannabis plant, including cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). At a federal level, CBD products with less than 0.3% THC are legal.
CBD vs THC
Primarily, CBD is in capsules, topicals, and candies. While CBD is similar to THC, it is not psychoactive and usually comes from hemp versus marijuana. Many individuals use CBD to ease stress and help with relaxation.
Like CBD, THC follows similar purposes, but it has a psychoactive component, which is what most people think of when they picture a ‘high.’ It typically comes from the marijuana plant and helps promote relaxation in some individuals. The U.S. Library Of Medicine records research stating that THC targets dopamine receptors in the brain.
When the brain releases dopamine, it triggers feelings of euphoria and pleasure. THC consumption varies from vaping, edibles, pills or capsules, and even oils.
What Is Medical Marijuana?
Cannabis used for medical conditions or treatment is medical marijuana. Unfortunately, medical marijuana becomes even more confusing when discussing legality (more on that below). Some of the most common medical marijuana forms are:
- Dry leaf/ Flower
Medical marijuana usually contains THC and undergoes a purification treatment that makes it different than consuming the entirety of the raw plant. In most states, we need a qualifying diagnosis by a physician.
Once a primary care physician determines if someone qualifies for the medical marijuana program, the next step is usually completing a state marijuana registry.
After completion and approval, individuals receive what is known as a ‘marijuana card.’ Ultimately, this permits individuals to purchase marijuana from local state dispensaries.
Medical Marijuana Legality
Purchasing medical marijuana ultimately depends on state laws since it is still illegal at a federal level. Although controversial, medical marijuana initially got its start in the 1800s. It became increasingly popular until the 1940s, when it was taken off pharmacopeia, and by 1970, THC was federally listed as a Schedule I drug.
The unfortunate nature of Schedule I drugs makes research and studies challenging. Since many people still benefited from medical marijuana, states started pushing back with decriminalization laws. California was the first state that approved medical marijuana, and since then, the majority of the country has followed suit.
Although marijuana remains illegal federally, the FDA has approved CBD-based pharmaceuticals for treatments such as epileptic seizures. While THC-based products remain up in the air, almost three million people in the United States have a medical marijuana card, and laws are continuously changing.
PA Medical Marijuana Laws
After approval in 2016, medical marijuana in Pennsylvania officially became legalized and available in 2018. But how do we get medical marijuana in PA, and are we allowed to consume edibles?
PA requires registration, physician certification, and a medical ID card like other states. Afterward, we can choose an approved medical marijuana dispensary. Here are some common medical conditions that qualify under PA law:
- Associated neuropathies
- HIV or AIDS
- Huntington’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Neurodegenerative diseases
- Parkinson’s disease
- Other terminal illnesses
Edibles and Medical Marijuana
How do edibles fit into the medical marijuana picture? Initially, edibles were not legalized for Pennsylvania medical marijuana consumption. At this time, dispensaries cannot sell edibles, but medical cannabis products can be mixed into food or drinks to facilitate ingestion by a patient in a facility or residence. Edibles can make it easier for individuals to ingest and are widely liked by many.
Edibles are foods that contain levels of THC. Since food types and consumption can vary, the time it takes for THC to enter our bloodstream can widely vary.
For this reason, we always urge you to start out with small amounts. The delayed effects can be surprising especially to those that lack experience. When consuming medical marijuana in an edible form, it is absorbed by our intestines. It is not immediately absorbed into the bloodstream like vaping.
While it may take longer for the effects of edibles (up to three hours in some instances), the effects tend to last around six to 12 hours, making it an excellent choice for some individuals who want a long-lasting effect.
As it sounds – whole flower cannabis includes more of the cannabis compounds that many theorize have greater benefits than isolating THC or CBD.
Are Edibles Legal in PA?
In May 2018, the PA Department Of Health issued revised regulations to allow whole-plant, flower cannabis. Dispensaries cannot sell edibles, but medical cannabis products could be mixed into food or drinks to facilitate ingestion by a patient in a facility or residence. Vaporization is allowed, and smoking is prohibited.
Medical marijuana cardholders can purchase dry leaf or flower from dispensaries and bake them into edibles such as brownies, cookies, or other high-fat products.
Baking edible products can help with consumption and is often easier for some patients. It is advised that THC and CBD are baked in items that have higher fat content, such as butter or oil, for better results.
Benefits of Edibles
Why should we pick edibles over other consumption forms in PA? For starters, we won’t lose the desired effects of medical cannabis, such as promoting relaxation and easing stress.
It is discreet, tastes delicious when prepared properly and we can purchase whole plant products.
Of course, your choice of consumption really depends on what you feel most comfortable with and we always recommend talking to a medical marijuana doctor or pharmacist to ensure you have the most meaningful information.
How To Make Edibles
To get started with whole plant edibles, we need a good recipe that can help us have a pleasant experience baking and eating edibles! After all – edibles are meant to be enjoyed, and we shouldn’t have to suffer through bland, unpleasant food to get the effects we want out of our medical marijuana.
Luckily, Snoop Dog and Martha Stewart have us covered! Here is a simple edible brownie recipe that we can all use the next time we are in the kitchen:
2/3 cup cannabis butter
2 cups sugar
1.5 cups flour
Three tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup pecans (chopped)
1 tsp vanilla extract
We’ll want a 9 inch by a 13-inch baking sheet and pre-heat the oven to 350° F. After beating the eggs, we can add the cannabis and sugar and mix for ten minutes. Slowly mix in the other ingredients, saving the pecans and vanilla last!
After 35 minutes, let the brownies cool and enjoy! Check out the recipe for an added chocolate icing treat.
Find a Medical Marijuana Dispensary
In Pennsylvania, it is legal to purchase whole flower cannabis to bake into products at home! At Medical Marijuana Specialists, we make the process easy. We can get you certified and help you find the right PA medical marijuana dispensaries or if you are already certified you can easily sift through on our map! Check out our website and let us help you with the process!