The High Cost of Medical Marijuana Could Leave Some Without Access
Those who rely on medical marijuana to treat conditions like cancer, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are likely to find themselves with a dilemma: how to afford the skyrocketing cost of medical marijuana. Imagine being priced out of an industry after your stories were heavily referenced to sway public opinion about the therapeutic benefits? Or, worse. Imagine the patients with a medical marijuana card living with chronic pain, nauseous, or any of the above health concerns who must choose between purchasing high-cost medical cannabis, or other daily essentials like groceries, reported a patient in Arizona living with Fibromyalgia.
While the reasons for such volatility in the market may make sense to some in the regulated cannabis industry, patients and advocates remind us all that patient access needs aren’t being met the way current costs are going. Thanks to the work of a handful of grassroots patient advocacy groups, many patients and caregivers have access points to medicine but some say that isn’t enough.
How Did Weed Get So Expensive?
We have come a long way In the infamous, yet classically messy market of Los Angeles cannabis. Some lawmakers across state lines blame the disconnect between local and federal laws. Another catalyst for the enormously high prices of medicinal marijuana is strict testing and packaging rules placed on manufacturers, processors, and distributors.
Rob Ryan, the Executive Director of the Ohio Patient Network told journalists that he has “one word: outrageous”. Ryan further shared that due to supply and demand, medicinal cannabis costs remain high for residents of Ohio. Granted, it is Ohio, but absurd prices like over 7k for a pound have been reported, and that’s before tax. That just is not accessible. Not for patients, or your average adult-use consumers.
Compassionate Medicinal Marijuana Programs
States like California, Colorado, Massachusetts, and more advocacy groups have kept the high cost of medicinal marijuana on their radar, especially during the pandemic. The following businesses and organizations have remained committed to facilitating low to no cost medical cannabis donations for those most in need.
Sweetleaf Collective began in 1996 in the city many refer to as the birthplace of medical marijuana and the compassionate cannabis movement, San Francisco, California. When they began, Sweetleaf provided cannabis to just 5 patients living with wasting syndrome due to AIDS. Now, they provide free medical cannabis to more than 150 low-income terminally ill patients and have given over $2 Million dollars worth of medicinal marijuana to patients in need.
Also in CA, LA NORML, together with the Veterans Cannabis Coalition launched one of California’s first SB-34 compliant compassion programs earlier this year. With the high costs of medicinal marijuana products, many are simply unable to afford this medicine. “A patient’s socioeconomic status shouldn’t determine whether or not they have access to life-changing medicine. Look past the customers and money and put your heart towards those in need”.
Following suite was This is Jane Project, a California non-profit organization serving women and non-binary trauma survivors. Together with brand partners like popular delivery service, Eaze, Lake Grade Cannabis, Dear Jane;, and more, TIJP is committed to ensuring that those most in need have access to safe, low to no cost cannabis through their network of brands, partners, and organizations.
In Colorado, Green Dot Labs donated hundreds of bottles of quarter-ounces (7 grams) of medicinal marijuana to adults hit the hardest by the COVID outbreak. Allowing those who lost a family member or loved one to the top of the list, Green Dot Labs is showing up for medicinal marijuana patients at a critical time in world history.
In Michigan, they too responded to the social and financial crisis of COVID-19 and the high cost of a medical marijuana card by giving ¼ ounce of free weed to those who showed documentation that they were either a veteran, or on Social Security disability. In addition to the medicinal marijuana flower, patients in Sheridan Michigan also received gummies and CBD products.