You may be wondering why it has taken so long for me to get to the writing of part 2. Aside from having to finish my Social Security Disability appeal, I have been struggling with issues concerning the dosages of my new drug. While that’s an entirely different post that won’t be addressed here, it has caused difficulties in getting things accomplished.
At this time, 25 states have passed bills to legalize medicinal marijuana. Unfortunately, the laws surrounding medical cannabis vary from state to state so all I can attest to is what I know about Minnesota and some of the federal mandates attached to legalization. If you have information about your state that can’t be found in this handy link, please leave a comment.
In Part 1 of this post, you read about Minnesota’s legal process of gaining access to my new drug. At my initial appointment with my pharmacist back on August 2, it was enlightening to learn about a few of the laws. After jumping through all the hoops, these meds must be kept in the prescription container that has the patient’s name on it. If not, you’re breaking the law. You can also get pulled over for driving under the influence of marijuana, medicinal and recreational, so think twice before getting behind the wheel of your car.
You may not leave the state with your prescription. Even if you are traveling to another state where medical cannabis is legal, you will once again be breaking the law. “Does that mean those of us who travel are essentially screwed?” I asked my pharmacist. “Yep.” I’m sure people take their chances all the time, but what it boils down to is this. Legally, I can only manage my health issues with this medication within the confines of my own state. When we go on vacation or need to travel for work, we have no choice but to suffer without our meds or take a gamble with the law.
There are certain places where it’s forbidden for us to carry our medication. Any federal building is off limits. And on and on…Why are there so many problems with this? Because it isn’t a federally mandated law. If it was legal at the federal level, the laws would be the same across the board. And until it’s descheduled at the federal level, meaning it has to be removed from the Schedule 1 list of drugs, insurance companies will not cover any of our health expenses pertaining to this prescription.
What does this mean for the people who live in one of the 25 states where it’s legalized? I’m guessing that most of the people who truly need it will not be able to afford it. As I wrote previously, it cost me $200 for a one year registration fee and $227 for one month’s worth of prescriptions. For those people who can’t work, are single, or have other issues with affordability, they will go without access to a drug that can potentially help them.
In my mind, supply and demand is also a factor in the cost. Minnesota has one of the most restrictive laws in the nation. When the law went into effect in 2015, the Minnesota Department of Health anticipated an enrollment of 5,000 people. One year later, there are only 2,350 enrolled patients, and 500 of those fall under the umbrella of Intractable Pain that went into effect at the beginning of August. I would hope that having a significantly higher number of patients enrolled would lower the cost.
Another issue preventing people from participating in the program is finding a doctor who is registered and certified to enroll a patient in the system. As of last week, there were 667 healthcare providers in Minnesota who fit the bill. But how do you know who they are? Good question. When I conducted a Google search, I found a list of holistic practitioners who are certified. However, an appointment with them will cost $250 out of pocket. This is why it’s best to try to find a doctor within your own healthcare network. In my case, I was lucky that my movement disorder doctor was already certified. Ask around. And if you have stumbled upon a list of traditional doctors in your state who are able to recommend medical cannabis for their patients, please share that information with us.
How can you help everyone who needs medicinal marijuana gain access to it? Support a change in the law by contacting your legislators. Here is one such petition supporting a proposed bill in the House of Representatives. Please contact your Congressmen and urge them to deschedule Medicinal Marijuana. This is the only way to get health insurance coverage, and we need your help desperately.
MY HOPES: My hope for me is simple. I hope it helps relieve my muscle spasms and my pain. I also hope that we can do something to make this medication affordable to all, including myself. While I scrambled to get the money to try it, as I’m willing to try anything that can renew my life, I certainly can’t afford to pay the monthly prescription fee. I know I’m not alone.
So we need everyone’s help to put the pressure on our federal lawmakers to change the laws. They must deschedule marijuana if there is any chance of getting our health insurance to cover our costs. My hope is that you will sign the petition above, and share it with everyone you know. Contact your senators at the federal level too. This is an immediate problem that requires an immediate solution. Please, help us make this happen.