How To Get Health Coverage If You’re A Medical Marijuana Patient

by Peter Res

Medical Marijuana, which is legal for use in 20 states plus Washington DC, has been the subject of much controversy over the past several years. Although marijuana has shown to be an effective treatment for terminal and chronic illnesses as well as anxiety, it is still classified as Schedule 1 under Federal law, along with heroin, cocaine, and other narcotics, and is considered a hazardous and highly illegal substance, regardless of state law.

Due to this federal designation, the FDA does not plan to approve the drug, which means that insurance companies have chosen to steer clear of covering its cost to consumers, under any circumstances.

For the person with chronic pain or illness who uses medicinal marijuana as a remedy for pain, this news can be absolutely crushing, especially if your treatment requires you to purchase large quantities of the drug.

How then, can the problem be solved?

Are patients stuck with the burden of paying full price, sometimes hundreds of dollars, for medical marijuana?

Contrary to what you might think, there are a few ways to potentially get around at least some of the costs associated with medical marijuana, and still keep your insurance coverage.

Here’s a step-by-step guide of how it can be done, as well as some generally smart practices to keep in mind along the way.

Know Your Registration Rights: How You Can Benefit

The 20 states that currently permit medical marijuana usage are: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Washington DC, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

Each of these states has their own unique regulations regarding medicinal marijuana use and registration.

If you live in one of these states, and you’re already registered by the state as a user, then you are well aware of this fact. But it’s important to know what benefits you qualify for as well.

How can knowing registration specifics help you afford your medication?

Some states offer lower registration fees for users who apply for them. New Jersey, for instance, offers reduced registration fees through their Medicinal Marijuana Program, under certain circumstances. The fee of $200 can effectively be reduced to $20 for patients that are covered by Medicaid, are on Social Security Disability, SSI, or Food Stamps. For more information, see the NJ MMP Page.

In some states, dispensaries and centers are permitted to offer their products at a reduced cost to consumers.

If you’d like to know if these options are possible in your state, inquire with the state directly (and anonymously), go to your state’s official website to find out more.

State to state: All approved states, except Oregon, require a residency requirement for registration.

Alternative Options For Reducing Cost

Did you know that 15 of the 20 states that permit medical marijuana usage also permit home cultivation, or growing of plants, under certain circumstances?

You may live in a state that allows you to cultivate your own plants for your personal medical use. This can considerably offset the cost of paying full price for medicinal marijuana products at dispensaries and alternative care centers.

For more information on the specific laws of each state, as well as the conditions that are required for cultivation, see, a great resource for specific state requirements, procedures, and benefits.

Stay Informed

Marijuana laws are constantly changing, and states are slowly becoming more open to the idea of allowing its use for medicinal purposes.

Although the Affordable Care Act does not mention the use of marijuana for treatment, and the Federal government is staunchly opposed to delisting it as a Schedule 1 drug, petitions have been filed at the state and congressional levels, and researchers are continuing to find proof of marijuana’s usage in medical cases, particularly in cancer and chemotherapy treatment, and the treatment of muscular diseases such as MS.

Notably, more states are leaning toward implementing medicinal marijuana regulation, and a few states, such as Virginia and New Hampshire, have laws on the books that have yet to be implemented.

For those of you who are struggling to find an affordable way to cover the cost of your treatment, or who live in a non-medical marijuana state such as New York, it is important not to lose hope.

Regulations change rapidly, and federal law is also subject to change. You may find one day soon that you qualify under new regulations to benefit from the reduced cost of medical marijuana. There may even be a regulation in place that you can benefit from immediately.

Peter Res is a writer, poet, and editor. In addition to writing for Vista Health Solutions he is currently an adjunct professor of Writing and Composition at Centenary College of New Jersey, and an editor for the literary magazine Collective Fallout.

About Old Hippie Old Hippie is a father of two boys and thankfully living in California where all this kind of thing is legal. He started smoking marijuana in 1967 in high school, experimented with mind-expanding drugs of all kinds, and then straightened out 15 or so years later to become an airplane pilot. After being diagnosed with depression in 2000, he lost his job and most of the following decade to prescription medications (such as antidepressants) which sapped his energy and will. Finally, a chance conversation with a friend led to a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana (MMJ). This changed his entire life, health, and outlook for the better. is his continuing story. It’s also his way to provide experienced advice on using medical marijuana effectively and responsibly, as well as advocacy, activism, and support for others. Old Hippie teaches about safe use of cannabis edibles, Canna Caps, vaporizers, dosing, and even microdosing.


Every part of my body has been bolted on … 7 shoulder surgeries hip replacement /2 back surgeries .. 2 level fusion and hip replacement aug 5 -14 …. I am totally disable with horrible pain … Will Medicare/Medicade help me with the cost of dr and meds … The oil completely changes my life … Ready to live on the street just for relief from this nightmare pain !!! Does anyone know it disability Medicare / Medicade help me ? Thanks .. Colorado NJ Washington cali ? Any of them id go to get help … Thanks

Dear Roger,

Wow, that really sounds rough.

Although on paper there are 23 states that have medical marijuana, in reality there are many that are MMJ in name only. New Jersey is one of them; you must have one of a very limited number of diseases, and there are only two dispensaries in the entire state. There are a number of other states almost as bad. So your best bet for a state is one where you will feel comfortable living in that has guaranteed access to legitimate MMJ. Colorado is probably the safest bet is you can deal with the cold and the altitude, because Washington has screwed up its entire MMJ program (you can still get legal cannabis there though).

Having said all that…there is no way that Medicare or Medicaid will actually pay for your MMJ directly, because it’s still Federally illegal. So you’ll still have to get by on Social Security and any money you can make otherwise. Many private MMJ dispensaries have programs to help patients who don’t have a lot of money, because this is a common problem.

Best of luck!
Old Hippie

I have epilepsy my meds do not not work any more but the the cbd does but very high in cost will any any one that will deduct the price and sell it it me oe on line I do not drive

I am in CT and I cannot afford these prices anyone got any ideas that could help with cost please I would be so grateful thank you. I suffer with RSD/CRPS 1.

I don’t know if this is your territory or if you can help me, but NY is a new medical marijuana state. Everything here seems to be much more strict than what I’ve heard of in other states, and what is offered is super limited ( I actually only want something to deal with the pain with NO THC in it and they don’t even offer that!!! Any recommendations? Online is full of stuff, but they won’t tell you how much CBD. the pain relieving stuff is in it, , so you will pay a fortune for stuff that won’t work because of the small percentage.) .. Any how.. they list every kind of illness in NY related to my illness, but not my illness., which is Muscular Dystrophy. (A severe muscle wasting and systemic progressive debillitating genetic disease with no treatment. ) Any suggestions as to how I can get that recognized as a condition for which a person can get a medical marijuana card?


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