Medical marijuana patients face full cost of treatment

Local News

Patients who plan to use medical marijuana in Ohio may face a big hurdle when it comes to paying for it.

Medical marijuana is not covered by insurance since it has not been legalized under federal law.

“I have a lot of pain, and I need something other than pills for it,” said Dorothy Hawthorne, who suffers from painful neuropathy in her feet.

Hawthorne said she was previously put on Vicodin, but that only added symptoms of discomfort. Now, she’s going to try medical marijuana, but it’s not covered by insurance.

“If they can cover everything else that’s harmful to you…why not use something that’s natural and good for you to use and it works?” Hawthorne said.

According to Randy Shaffer, marketing manager for Ohio Marijuana Card, which provides letters of recommendation for qualifying patients, there has been a lot of interest in medical marijuana across the state.

Shaffer said he’s unable to estimate how much medical marijuana could cost patients in Ohio since dispensaries haven’t opened. But it could be anywhere from a few hundred dollars a year to as much as few thousand, he added.

“We want everyone in the state who wants to get medical marijuana, we want them to be able to get it,” Shaffer said.

Ohio Marijuana Card has worked with some non-profit organizations that help cover costs for some patients, he said.

“If somebody came to us with childhood epilepsy or with Crohn’s disease, we can send them to an organization that helps pay for them,” Shaffer said. “There’s a couple veterans organizations as well that help pay for veterans.”

Dorothy Hawthorne said she’ll be able to afford medical marijuana as long as costs don’t add up to the thousands. She said she’s optimistic those costs will someday be covered.

“Somebody will get a clue,” Hawthorne said. “Right now they don’t get it. But they’ll get it.”

It could be several years before insurance companies start covering medical marijuana, Shaffer said.

Ohio dispensaries are expected to start opening this winter, Shaffer added.

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