Monthly Archives: November 2016

Will insurers cover medical marijuana?

Voters in Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota this month approved initiatives legalizing the medical use of marijuana. A total of 28 states already or will soon permit medical use of the drug, while eight states have approved it for recreational use, according to The New York Times.

As more physicians in these states write prescriptions for marijuana, questions on whether health insurers should cover expenses for the drug have risen to the forefront.

A primary aspect of the quandary is that scientific evidence is lacking on the benefits of marijuana or the dozens of cannabinoids found in the plant, according to the report.

Typically, health insurers limit coverage of marijuana-related drugs for FDA-approved uses. The FDA has only approved a synthetic version of a cannabinoid and a similar drug for a narrow range of uses, including treatment of nausea in chemotherapy patients or to stimulate the appetites of patients with AIDS.

To read more:

Medical Marijuana Is Legal in California. Except When It’s Not.

SANTA ROSA, Calif. — California’s multibillion dollar marijuana industry, by far the nation’s largest, is crawling out from the underbrush after voters opted to legalize cannabis in this month’s election. In Sonoma County alone, an estimated 9,000 marijuana cultivation businesses are operating in a provisional gray market, and are now looking to follow the path of the wine industry, which emerged from its own prohibition eight decades ago and rose to the global prominence it enjoys today.

But the bruising ordeals of one of the state’s largest cannabis companies, CannaCraft, have made many in the marijuana industry fearful, and they also suggest a long and bumpy road from marijuana’s approval at the ballot box to the same on-the-ground acceptance enjoyed by wine and beer businesses.

When CannaCraft, which produces medical marijuana products, came out of the shadows this summer, the company was hammered for it. It is still recovering from a raid in June by federal and local law enforcement officers on its newly opened headquarters and the seizure of $5 million in equipment, inventory and cash. This year, company drivers have twice been stopped by the California Highway Patrol, and, in one case, 1,600 pounds of marijuana was seized.

To read more:

Many States Have Legalized Medical Marijuana, So Why Does DEA Still Say It Has No Therapeutic Use?

More than half the states–28, to be exact–including Arkansas, Florida and North Dakota as of the Nov. 8 election, and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for certain medical conditions.

And yet, the Drug Enforcement Administration still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, defined by the 1970 Controlled Substances Act as a drug that has a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use (emphasis is mine) in the United States. Other Schedule I drugs include heroin, LSD and ecstasy.

Only the Food and Drug Administration can determine whether marijuana has an accepted medical use, according to the DEA, and so far, it hasn’t. Because marijuana is a Schedule I drug, doctors can only “recommend” it to patients, not write prescriptions for it that they can fill at a drugstore.

But Congress has the authority to reclassify controlled substances, and the president can ask his attorney general, who oversees the DEA, or his Health and Human Services secretary, who oversees the FDA, to initiate rulemaking to reclassify them, Brookings Institution senior fellow John Hudak told me.

To read more:

Will the Trump Administration Weed Out Medical Marijuana?

Medical marijuana had a yuge win on election day.

In each state where the issue was on the ballot—Florida, Arkansas, Montana, and North Dakota—voters supported initiatives that would provide or expand patients’ access to cannabis products for ailments that include post-traumatic stress disorder, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, and glaucoma.

All told, 29 states and the District of Columbia now have legislation permitting medical marijuana.

But come January, will the Trump administration allow this to continue?

That’s a question, because while the states may be the laboratories of democracy, the United States government is the ultimate arbiter in this case. Under federal law, marijuana, regardless of its intended use, remains illegal.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has signaled that it prefers to keep it that way. In August, the government agency announced that it would continue to classify marijuana as a Schedule I substance—placing it in the same category as heroin, LSD, and other drugs that have a high potential for abuse and no medical value.

To read more: