Cost of medical marijuana still high across WNY

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- Medical marijuana treatment has a steep cost in New York State.

“Anywhere from $20 to $2,000 or $3,000 per month,” said Daniel Ryszka, who has two children using medical marijuana.

Insurance doesn’t cover it.

The NYS Department of Health released changes to the program last week to allow nurse practitioners to certify patients, allow for home delivery, and increase the number of registered organizations that can dispense the drug.

Ryszka told News 4 he hopes that will increase competition and drive down the price.

The Dept. of Health also expanded the waiver for the $50 patient and caregiver application fee to registration.

“We’ve allowed for a waiver so individuals with limited income and difficult financial means aren’t prevented from obtaining medical marijuana,” said State Senator Tim Kennedy.

While those who rely on the drug say that helps, the state didn’t address the cost of the drug itself.

The Dept. of Health approved the prices for medical marijuana, which vary depending on the dispensary. The state worked with a consultant to make sure the prices are comparable among the dispensaries, according to the Dept. of Health’s website.

Patients and physicians still report to News 4 prices that exceed $1,000 a month in some cases.

“We need to make it more affordable and that’s the most important thing,” said State Assemblyman Michael Kerns.

So what’s being done to accomplish that?

“One of the things we’re looking at is having a sliding scale where if they’re poor or can’t afford it we’ll use some of the profits, some of the taxes, to supplement the cost of medical marijuana,” said Kearns.

Medical experts had other ideas.

“No insurance company is going to cover medical marijuana without the appropriate research,” said Dr. Laszlo Mechtler, medical director at DENT Neurologic Institute. “Help us do the right research to help the patients to get coverage of medical marijuana.”

U.S. Senator Kirstin Gillibrand pushed for expanded research in Washington D.C. and last month the federal government decided to allow more research into its medical uses.

The Obama Administration did not agree to reclassify the drug from Schedule 1, which categorizes the drug as having “no accepted medical use”.

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