In yesterday’s blog post, the discrepancies in the number of medical cannabis users were discussed and the suggestion arose that perhaps medical cannabis use may need stricter regulations. The author of the piece that inspired the letter featured in the post responded, highlighting the possibility that recreational cannabis is being used for medical purposes rather than users obtaining cannabis from more nefarious sources. The author points out that renewing medical licenses can be a hassle and in states where recreational cannabis has been legalized patients may just be obtaining their cannabis, used for medical purposes, from recreational dispensaries. Surveys that delve into this issue are needed to confirm the author’s hypothesis.
Describing the medical process of obtaining a cannabis license as a hassle is, unfortunately, reported by many consumers. State governments are forced to run the regulatory processes, in the absence of federal support, and conservative politicians and opposition groups often create difficulty around opening dispensaries in their districts. On top of the expenses of renewing or obtaining a medical license, it may seem almost less confrontational for people who reside in a state or have access to recreational marijuana (from a state-regulated dispensary) simply to purchase recreational cannabis, rather than take the time to obtain a license.
Of note, Massachusetts is one of the few states that has anticipated this circumstance and has codified protections and advantages of the medical program, into law. In Massachusetts, medical patients are incentivized through robust discounts (totaling greater than $2000 in discounts, and 20% cost reduction because of the absence of state taxation for medical patients.) Further, there are legal protections available only to medical patients, and the opportunity for delivery, which are not available to recreational consumers.
Benjamin Caplan, MDAuthor’s Response to Discrepancies in Medical Cannabis Use
A recent letter to the editor exposes the large discrepancy between the number of registered medical marijuana patients and those who self-reported medical cannabis use. Estimates given by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) suggest that 2.5% of Americans over the age of 12 used medical cannabis in 2013-2015 but a study from 2016 found that only 641,176 people were licensed to receive medical cannabis, a prevalence of 0.4%. If the numbers published by the NSDUH are accurate then states may need to delve into how so many people are accessing medical cannabis without proper licensing in order to better regulate the supply. If the numbers are extrapolated to 2019 and include all states where medical cannabis use in legal then more than 6.2 million people should be licensed but may not be.
Medical cannabis can be difficult to acquire due to its cost, post-legalization. Although medical cannabis in Massachusetts is readily available with a large number of dispensaries across the state, the cost of obtaining a doctor’s recommendation, complying with state fees, and then paying for the cannabis at a dispensary can be too much for some patients. Although MA will soon be waving the state fee, to obtaining a license, clinicians are still expensive and without the support of the federal government allowing national insurance companies to cover medical cannabis the costs still add up quickly. Fortunately, some dispensaries are designed to cater to those who need financial support.
Medical marijuana is legal in 33 states, and recreational marijuana is legal in 11. But on a federal level, the use and possession of marijuana is illegal for any purpose. The illegal status of cannabis prohibits research opportunities and hinders the safety of cannabis sales.
Watch this video for 4 reasons to legalize marijuana on a federal level
Benjamin Caplan, MDVideo: Legalization of Cannabis?
Though UK doctors have been able to prescribe cannabis since November 2018, very few prescriptions have been issued, because most forms of medical cannabis have not been approved by the government.
In response to thousands of disappointed patients, the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee called for immediate clinical trials focusing on the treatment of intractable childhood epilepsy.
Surveys on medical professionals’ opinions on medical cannabis show that while many are still skeptical and do not think it is completely safe, younger doctors and those on the East coast are more supportive. This clash could be good for solving some common concerns with cannabis. http://bit.ly/2XQVxWz
Benjamin Caplan, MDSurveys show medical professionals’ opinions clashing around Cannabis
MA effectively outlawed the sale of any food products with CBD or products which make therapeutic claims. This is the result of FDA saying that CBD cannot be added to food or dietary supplements. In a state where cannabis is legally accessible, consumers and hemp farmers are very unhappy. What do you think? http://bit.ly/2IOtTRm
Benjamin Caplan, MDIn MA, despite being state-legal, FDA says CBD cannot be added to food or dietary supplements. What now?
Massachusetts has come one step closer to a pilot program involving cannabis cafes across the state. This will also bring about more licenses for cannabis delivery and social consumption, as a less capital-intensive option for entrepreneurs to enter the industry. http://bit.ly/2IOjOUz
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Kudos to Kyle Jaeger for a helpful summary of last week’s US House’s vote on an amendment to block the Department of Justice from interfering in states’ legal cannabis programs. His work outlines which representatives stand where, with regard to #cannabis. Interesting to see, and how times change! http://bit.ly/2LgKO0P
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Benjamin Caplan, MDUS House of Representatives votes to support state legal cannabis