is MMJ legit?
Medical cannabis is playing an increasingly significant role in the health care system, but there is still a lot of research left to be conducted regarding its efficacy. Additionally, most longterm studies have not yet come to completion, on account of having just begun to unravel within the last twenty or so years. This is due to the more recent approval rating the plant has burgeoned; in retrospect, cannabis has never been more “on fire” than it is today.
Over 4 million people in the 35 states where medical marijuana is legal (including Puerto Rico) presently have a medical marijuana card. While it’s still federally illegal to possess cannabis in the United States, the government has not taken any action whatsoever to shut down or prosecute states with current medical cannabis programs available to residents. Interestingly, they also don’t seem very interested in decriminalizing it, either.
Many presidential offices have hinted at the idea of legalization during more recent campaigns. This has been received well by a large majority of American citizens, who are hoping to see real progress take place in their country. It has also been argued that a nationwide recreational cannabis market could be the stimulus our economy needs as we repair small businesses and corporations alike in a post-pandemic world. However, there are still millions of people carrying a criminal record or actively sitting in jail because the federal government decided it was best to make cannabis illegal with the passage of the 1970 Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
Riddled with racist connotations and anti-marijuana propaganda, their message resonated with American people – and law books – for a couple of centuries. In this previous blog post, we further explore the incredibly complex history of this medicinal plant, and how it has changed human history forever. In 2022, it is widely recognized as a medicinal plant with a large variety of uses, and patients, political officials, business owners and cannabis activists have all teamed together with a common goal to end the war on cannabis. But how has it been received so far, and what lies ahead for this grassroots community of people?
A related question that seems to be on the minds of folks more and more these days, is whether or not cannabis will continue to be sold at a higher cost to patients who need it than to those in recreational states who can consume much larger portions at a far cheaper price tag. This price disparity exists because cannabis is seen as a commodity in recreational markets (meaning it is the same as buying milk, cigarettes, or tampons), but not in medical marijuana dispensaries. Furthermore, even though medical marijuana is a legitimized treatment plan, insurance companies routinely refuse to cover the cost of medication for patients who are simply looking to have these companies uphold their part of the deal.
Are medical marijuana cards covered by insurance?
There is a great deal of interest in medical cannabis and its advantages nowadays. So, you might be shocked to learn that your medical marijuana card isn’t covered by insurance. Medicare Advantage, Original Medicare, and state Medicaid programs have yet to develop a medical card program or publish a statement on their policies regarding medical marijuana. This is 100% intentional and not an oversight of these companies, who understand that cannabis is an incredible plant that could outcompete a large chunk of the medical services and medications currently available through their network today. Private health insurances, like Blue Cross Blue Shield and Aetna, have followed suit. At the time of publishing this, no insurance plans currently cover medical cannabis at all.
However, there is some good news. If you have a serious medical condition that requires cannabis-based therapy, synthetic cannabinoid-based prescription medication might be eligible for Medicaid coverage since they have been approved by the Food & Drug Administration and technically aren’t illegal. Yet, these drugs are more potent and dangerous, and have been associated with dangerous adverse effects. You need to first decide if you want to join a prescription drug plan like the ones offered with Epidiolex or Marinol, then find a doctor who’s willing to prescribe it to you.
Both of these drugs are relatively new to the pharmaceutical market, and opting into their medicinal uses may carry more risks than the information we currently have represents. While we appreciate the sentiment, it’s really not necessary to enlist as a guinea pig for these drugs (and their ongoing trials). The cannabis plant has everything we need, already flawlessly refined through millions of years of natural evolution.
So what exactly are the Medicaid benefits for cannabis treatments, and why won’t Medicaid or Medicare reimburse you for your medical cannabis card? The answer is far more complicated than the usual consideration, which is that most health insurance companies refuse to substantiate or consider medical marijuana a valid treatment plan until the U.S. federally decriminalizes THC. Furthermore, it can be assessed that the pharmaceutical options available are making billions of dollars of revenue for these insurance companies – and the healthcare industry at large – both conspicuously and inadvertently. Cannabis may not provide the same padding of pockets, and even if it did, it would put a lot of prescription drug companies (and possibly even health insurance companies) out of business.
Medical Marijuana – What is it?
Medical marijuana is, simply put, cannabis that is used to treat certain health conditions. Patients who have a medical marijuana card can use THC, THCA, CBD and many other cannabinoids safely and legally. This applies to patients who have been certified to use cannabis in order to treat their qualifying health conditions, which include but are not limited to:
- Anxiety and Depression
- Multiple sclerosis symptoms
- Nausea and Appetite loss
- Pain and Inflammation
- Autism and Spectrum Disorders
- Muscle spasms
- Seizure-like activity
- Eating Disorders
- Opioid Addiction
- Crohn’s Disease
- Irritable Bowel Disease
- Huntington’s Disease
Depending on where you reside, your state may allow medical marijuana usage for additional indications. Some states have very restricted lists of ailments that allow patients to apply for a medical marijuana card. Other states have far more welcoming and accessible policies, bolstered by a lack of requirements like medical records or background checks.
Medical Marijuana: Is it legal?
Medical marijuana is now legal in many states throughout the United States. Check with your state’s current legislation to find out if medical cannabis is permitted in your state. Make sure to look up your state’s list of qualifying illnesses for a medical marijuana card if applicable!
If you’re not sure where to start, don’t hesitate to reach out to us and we’ll be happy to field any questions you may have about beginning – or finalizing – the process. It can seem overwhelming at first, but there’s a reason patients trust the experts for their continued care and medical cannabis support.
Medical Marijuana benefits
Researchers conducted a study back in 2019 to assess the advantages of utilizing medical marijuana using systematic reviews. A systematic review is “an assessment made of a question or inquiry, which uses explicit methods to identify, select and critically appraise relevant primary research”. In other words, a systematic review is a complex piece of research that aims to identify and synthesize all research published on a particular question or topic. The most prevalent reason patients utilized medical marijuana in the data gathered was for pain, according to this study. MS pain and postoperative discomfort were also among the more common problems being treated by cannabis.
The second-most frequent cause of people turning to medical cannabis was movement problems, such as those that occur with Parkinson’s disease. This includes MS-related movement disturbances as well. While younger generations continue to fulfill the majority of both recreational and medicinal use, it is arguable that the elderly cannabis crowd are offered a higher rate of overall benefit and a sharper increase in quality of life. As with most good things in life, of course, moderation is key. And because cannabis is being used as a medicine, a certified physician is paramount to success in this venture.
The most frequent causes for obtaining a medical marijuana card, according to the researchers, were vomiting and nausea. Cannabis has been documented as early as 2737 B.C. for the treatment of rheumatism arthritis, gout, malaria, and even poor cognitive function. In the 18th century, the plant’s functionality began to expand rapidly, proving helpful against nausea and discomfort as well as tetanus, cholera, and rabies. Not long after, The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 made possession or transfer of cannabis illegal throughout the United States under federal law – excluding industrial uses, of course.
The medicinal benefits of cannabis were not much of a conversation piece until the late 1990’s, when cannabis activists and doctors began to emerge and further publicize the outdated and barbaric ramifications of the Controlled Substance Act, which had been unsuccessfully petitioned several times within that time period with the goal of removing cannabis from the “Schedule 1” category. While cannabis has far more benefits and uses than we could possibly list here, the plant has been known to fight cancer, prevent seizures, treat gastrointestinal disorders, prevent relapse in drug and alcohol addiction, reduce inflammation, and even lower blood pressure. It also improves sleep, appetite, mood, and quality of life in general. Cannabis now comes in many forms, most of which are discrete and effortless to consume. While THC edibles like cookies or brownies may not be your thing, perhaps dissolvable THC breath strips or 1:1 CBD:THC capsules are.
The first state ever to legalize marijuana for medicinal use was California. Although this may not come as a surprise, it was no small feat to achieve a medical marijuana treatment program back in 1996, and took a lot of groundwork from the grassroots cannabis community that led the Golden State to legislative glory. Oregon, Alaska, and Washington soon followed suit through ballot measure. Today, 39 states have legalized medical marijuana for their respective residents. Many placebo studies have been conducted to rule out the possibility the medical cannabis is simply misidentified as a tonic. A tonic, by the way, is defined as a medicinal substance taken to give a feeling of vigor or well-being.
Drawbacks of Medical Marijuana
Cannabis has several effects, some of which are pleasant and others not. Cannabis use (whether medical or otherwise) can produce a number of adverse, positive, and even neutral effects. Generally, these side effects are minor. A lot of negative experiences are also due to misuse. Wether done indirectly or intentionally, misusing cannabis can have some serious consequences. You’re not likely to run into this problem if you educate yourself on the safe ways to consume cannabis and implement preventative measures to avoid this.
Drowsiness and dizziness are frequent adverse effects, according to the 2019 evaluation. This was deemed a minor side effect by 50% of the systematic reviews listed. However, a less often discussed potential symptom that marijuana use can cause is a higher likelihood of depression and anxiety. If you are using medical cannabis to treat your social anxiety, just like anti-anxiety medication, sometimes cannabis can adversely affect those conditions instead of serving as a beneficial presence. There’s no clear evidence that marijuana directly causes depression or anxiety, but underlying medical conditions can surface due to cannabis use, and sometimes those with pre-existing conditions can find cannabis helpful in the beginning but not as a longterm medication.
The information that has surfaced regarding those who choose to smoke or consume marijuana as a teenager or young adult is concerning. Patients under the age of 25 are advised that recent evidence indicates there is a negative implication on brain development as it relates to cannabis use. One study found irregularities in the prefrontal cortex, which is the area of the brain that is involved in decision-making, with patients younger than 25 who had reported smoking cannabis.
Benefits of Medicaid explained
By law, each state is required to provide Medicaid plans to low-income individuals. All states must offer a comprehensive list of minimum essential benefits. In addition to the above, the following are examples of Medicaid’s necessary features:
- Both in-patient and out-patient services
- Home healthcare services
- X-ray and Lab services
- Visits to the doctor
- Providing family planning services
There are several additional perks that your state’s Medicaid plan may include. This includes such services as dentistry, physiotherapy, optometry, and chiropractic. You may also qualify for Medicaid coverage for medication. This includes any prescription drug that the FDA has approved, regardless of whether it’s cannabis-related.
Medicaid and Medicare are federal programs, and marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I narcotic under federal law, which means they won’t cover your medical marijuana card. There are specific circumstances in which cannabis therapies are paid for if you add on prescription drug coverage. Keep in mind that even though you obtained prescription drug insurance, a medical marijuana card would not be reimbursed.
Medicaid Covers Cannabis Treatments
You might be thinking about whether Medicare covers anything related to cannabis by now. Yes, there is something! There are presently two FDA-approved medicines that are under federal law. You may be able to get the following two treatments if your policy includes prescription-drug coverage.
In 2018, the FDA approved Epidiolex, the United States’ first-ever non-synthetic cannabis therapy. This prescription aids in the prevention of seizures. It has also been particularly successful against childhood epilepsy and resistant epileptic seizures that have not responded to previous therapies.
If your doctor thinks Epidiolex can help you with epilepsy, your prescription will most likely be covered under Medicaid.
Dronabinol, or dronabinol, is a synthetic form of THC that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of nausea and vomiting. This medication is used to treat nausea and vomiting. Dronabinol has received FDA approval for use in two patient groups: people with AIDS and those receiving cancer chemotherapy.
Cancers and AIDS therapies, in particular the use of chemotherapy, can reduce weight. Dronabinol is authorized to promote hunger and decrease wasting.
The strange thing about this drug is that it doesn’t include any cannabinoids. Instead, dronabinol is a synthetic THC derivative. This is why dronabinol has been legal in the United States since the 1970s.
Are you nauseated and vomiting as a result of cancer therapy? If that’s the case, you’ll almost certainly be eligible for Medicaid coverage for your dronabinol prescription.
How to Apply for a Medical Marijuana Card
For the time being, Medicaid does not cover marijuana cards. Because cannabis is still federally illegal and has not been approved for medical use by the FDA, this remains to be the case. Medicaid may cover your Dronabinol or Epidiolex prescription if you have AIDS, epilepsy, or are undergoing cancer therapy, but they may still be expensive due to high deductibles and follow-up appointment costs.
Medical marijuana programs currently exist in a legal gray area. As the treatment plan pertains to the current state of westernized medicine, not everyone is convinced that cannabis has medicinal uses. Even though cannabis has been used for hundreds of thousands of years, the plant is still heavily embroiled in taboo and stigma. This allows medical professionals to denounce it in favor of other prescription medications, which may benefit them in more ways than one.
While natural medicine doesn’t provide the same kickbacks as lobbyists do for physicians, medical cannabis has become an imperative part of millions of lives – and that’s just in the United States. For those living overseas, it’s a mixed bag as well. Generally speaking, cannabis has been plagued with negativity, but has certainly withstood the test of time. Sure, it’s not a cure all… but, for most patients, it carries far more favorable side effects and symptoms than most prescription drugs currently available.
Even though you don’t qualify for coverage through Medicaid, are you still interested in obtaining a medical marijuana card? You’ve come to the correct location. Make an appointment with one of our medical marijuana card doctors right now at Green Team Doctors.
The steps to getting a medical marijuana (MMJ) card vary from state to state, but here are the basics:
- Make an appointment with a certified physician. You may be asked to provide medical records of a qualifying medical condition in order to be eligible for the treatment plan. If you need help getting diagnosed with the condition that qualifies you for medical cannabis, you can reach out to the Green Team Doctors and they’ll be happy to provide advice free of charge.
- Renew your marijuana card. This may require follow-up visits, although most of the states we provide services in allow Telehealth (meaning the doctor would call you as opposed to coming in). Ask your MMJ licensing office if there are any other additional steps you’ll need to take.
- Proceed to a dispensary where you will order, purchase, and receive your medication. It’s important to note that lots of medical marijuana pharmacies will provide discounts, special deals, and promotions from time to time. The Green Team can keep you up-to-date on the latest info!
Green Team Doctors | Utah Certified Qualified Medical Providers (QMP)
6975 South Union Park Avenue, Suite 600, Office 679
Cottonwood Heights, UT 84047
Call today! (801) 382-9006