Patrick McClellan was thrilled when he learned that his home state of Minnesota was legalizing medical marijuana in 2014. For McClellan, a former chef who had been on disability since he developed a rare form of muscular dystrophy, the drug provided the best relief for his painful muscle spasms. But six years after Minnesota rolled out its medical marijuana program, McClellan is still buying pot off the street. The reason is simple, he says: It’s far cheaper.“I’m paying a lot of money every month in out-of-pocket copays for my medication,” said McClellan, 54. “On top of that, I have to pay ridiculous prices for medical cannabis in the state of Minnesota.”He said he spends about $125 to $150 a month on black market weed. The equivalent product purchased through the state program would cost him about $500, McClellan said. Some 37 states and the District of Columbia have moved to legalize marijuana for medical use in the last decade. But as McClellan’s case illustrates, the price can be prohibitively expensive for those who rely on the drug to alleviate their chronic pain, nausea and other conditions. Across the U. S., the price of medical marijuana can be more than double the cost of street pot – even before you factor in the additional step required to keep it legal. Patients have to qualify for a medical marijuana card, which can cost up to $200 a year in states like Minnesota, according to an NBC News review.“I would say affordability is the number one barrier to access,” said Debbie Churgai, executive director of Americans for Safe Access, a Washington D. C.-based organization that advocates for safe and legal access to medical marijuana. The cost of the state-issued medical marijuana cards varies widely across the U. S., NBC News found. In a handful of states, including Utah, Colorado and Missouri, it costs less than $50. New Mexico issues its cards free of charge. But in three states – Minnesota, Arizona and Oregon – it costs at least $150. And in several others, the cards cost between $50 and $100. The cards must be renewed annually and paid for each year. After obtaining one, the patient must still pay out of pocket for the cannabis products themselves.“Even if the fee is as low as $25, at the end of the day patients are still paying for medicine that is really, really expensive,” Churgai said. Advocates point out that no other form of medicine requires patients to pay an annual fee before they can obtain it. But the registration card does play a role in keeping overall costs down, according to Maren Schroeder, policy director of Sensible Change Minnesota, a group dedicated to expanding access for medical marijuana patients in the state.”There is a cost to administer a state medical cannabis program that has to be borne by someone,” said Schroeder. “If it’s not a patient registration fee or a tax, it’s going to be an increased price of the product. Anyway you put it, the patients are going to pay for it.
All data is taken from the source: http://nbcnews.com
Article Link: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/ridiculous-price-medical-marijuana-leaves-patients-scrambling-n1274085
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