The “Green Wave”, Carla Mader, Navigates you through Medical Marijuana

Best of Pittsburgh

Written by Carla Mader; Publisher of Integrative Healing magazine

Marijuana (MMJ) has initiated a local Green Wave in Pittsburgh since the PA Medical Marijuana ACT was passed in April 2016. However, there are still many questions regarding the process.

The PA Medical Marijuana Education Center (#PAMMEC) located in the Strip District is a great resource for information, in the ever-changing MMJ space.  The most reliable source is the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PA DOH) website. There are several reliable local publications — Integrative Healing, Dispense, and coming soon, Sensi magazines. 

“MMJ is becoming the new normal in the post-prohibition world,” according to Gina Vensel, publisher, along with Matthew Raymond, of Sensi magazine.  From legal to overall acceptance issues, some do still have real concerns getting into the MMJ program with regard to employment (more employers accepting after hours MMJ use), giving up the right to have firearms (this hasn’t been federally enforced), traveling with MMJ, and the stigma of coming out with staunch non-supporters who ignore the research.  

Other concerns vary from “coming out” with prior recreational and opioid use when people are hesitant to enter the MMJ certification process. The process is confidential, and it is a safe space, and in the patient’s best interest to be honest about prior experience and opioid use, as that can change the recommendations.  There are also special precautions that must be taken with drug interactions with opioids, methadone, high blood pressure meds, statins, blood thinners, and many other medications. Your certification center and the dispensary can guide you in the process.

The PA Department of Health website states, “Medical Marijuana Program will provide access to medical marijuana for patients with a serious medical condition through a safe and effective method of delivery that balances patient need for access to the latest treatments with patient care and safety.” The current 23 qualifying conditions are:   

  • 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

3 Steps to getting your medical marijuana card

1: Schedule Appointment: Schedule an appointment. Appointments are usually available within a week and take about 30 minutes, including time to fill out the application

2: Meet the Doctor: Meet a medical cannabis doctor who will review your condition/symptoms and answer your questions. After meeting with the doctor, you’ll pay a $200 certification fee and the paperwork will be filed electronically with the state. Bring your medical records or letter from your physician regarding the diagnosis and treatment of your qualifying condition(s).

3: Get Your Card: Visit the PA DOH website at, pay a $25-$50 fee, depending on your income, and get your medical marijuana card in the mail in about 5-7 days. You’ll need your PA driver’s license and a credit card for the MMJ card fee. The certification center can assist you in registering with the state and logging back in to pay the MMJ card fee after you see the doctor. Once your card arrives, you can then visit a local dispensary!

Sensi, a city lifestyle publication with monthly editions, is launching in the ‘Burgh this fall!  Dispense magazine is a quarterly free resource for patients, doctors, cultivators, and dispensaries. Integrative Healing magazine is the sister publication of PetConnections magazine. All are local and distributed quarterly throughout the Greater Pittsburgh area.

Carla Mader, is Publisher of Integrative Healing magazine, Founder, All Life Advanced Care, LLC., MMJ certification clinics.