As support climbs for legal marijuana, and more and more patients turn to medical weed to help relieve painful symptoms, there is one huge roadblock that doesn’t seem to be budging anytime soon: health insurance providers.
As Drug Watch notes, even though people spend up to $1,000 a month for medical marijuana, the insurance industry is still standing strong against covering cannabis, “appearing to instead hide behind federal regulations and bureaucracy.”
The FDA must approve a drug before insurers will cover it as treatment. However, the FDA says it won’t approve medical marijuana until it sees clinical studies that answer questions about effectiveness, safety and potential side effects. But it can’t get studies until the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issues a permit to researchers to purchase and experiment with pot. The researchers would then have to explain what they’re doing, why they’re doing it and how they would keep the pot secure during a clinical trial.
As unfair as it seems, insurance companies only need one excuse to deny coverage: the fact that marijuana is still illegal under federal law.
While this is not good news for anyone who relies on medical marijuana, the good news is that it’s only a matter of time before marijuana does become legal at the federal level, which will undoubtedly force insurance companies to change their actions. Until then, medical marijuana patients are on their own.