Cost of medical marijuana: Law requires state to set up fund

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The Department of Health says three-fourths of Pennsylvanians with medical marijuana ID cards are getting the medicine, but it can be expensive – with patients spending between $200 to $800 a month.

Insurance companies do not cover medical marijuana and federal law prohibits coverage under Medicare or Medicaid, so patients must pay out of pocket.

“They need to bring the price down because veterans, disabled people getting a government check are not going to be able to afford a month supply of this, no way,” said Fred, a medical marijuana patient.

Act 16, the law that legalized medical marijuana in Pennsylvania, does not determine what dispensaries may charge for the medicine.

“We have 12 grower processors and we have many dispensaries, so the free market will end up determining the cost,” Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said.

Act 16, Chapter 9 does require the state to provide financial relief to patients in the future. Grower/processors have to pay a tax. That money goes into a medical marijuana program fund which will eventually help to assist patients who “demonstrate a financial hardship or need”.

“The program has only been running for a month or so now and the [financial relief] program is based upon the taxes from the cost of the product, so it is going to be awhile before we have those policies and procedures set up and we have the financial resources to be able to help those patients,” Levine said.

The law also requires the Health Department repay the General Fund any money used to get the medical marijuana program up and running before it can set up a financial hardship fund.

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