Medical Marijuana Costs May Make You Think Twice

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by Athena Merritt |

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Last week, voters successfully nudged a handful of states into expanding opportunities to buy marijuana legally. But there are a few things you should know before leaping into medical marijuana.

I was excited when my home state of Pennsylvania finally opened the door to medicinal uses two years ago. Pain has been my daily companion for several years, and I’ve been trying to eliminate it. But getting state-certified relief hasn’t been as easy as I thought.

For starters, get ready to pay — a lot. I registered for my state’s program in February 2019, which is the first step on the path to certification. I quit my pursuit two months later. It wasn’t because I couldn’t qualify but because the numerous physicians I contacted charged exorbitant fees to do so. 

One area practice told me there was an annual membership fee of more than $1,000 to become a patient of the practitioner. Afterward, I would have to hand over hundreds more for medical marijuana program certification. Another charged $375 for the initial visit and required patients to return every three months and pay $98 for recertification. 

The necessary consultations are not covered by health insurers, so it pays to shop around. In my case, it paid to wait, because my primary care physician joined the ranks of those providing certifications and I ended up paying $150. 

Step two: get ready to pay more

After being approved this summer, I had to pay the $50 annual fee for a medical marijuana card. It’s required to get into dispensaries and make purchases. 

Once again, you will not get any help from health insurers. You can leave your credit cards at home because it’s cash only for products. It ain’t cheap. 

A survey conducted in January 2020 found that nearly 59% of medical marijuana users in the Keystone State reported forking over $200 or more each month on medical marijuana products. Following is a complete breakdown of what the 3,201 respondents said they spent on average each month:

  • 15.98%: Less than $100
  • 25.06%: $100-$199
  • 19.99%: $200-299
  • 21.29%: $300-$499
  • 14.01%: $500-$1,000
  • 3.67%: Over $1,000

The top reason respondents (61.11%) said they stopped using medical marijuana was because they couldn’t afford it. No. 2 was because they (44.49%) couldn’t find a consistent supply of the product(s) they needed for their condition. High prices and limited options were also the gripes of those surveyed in neighboring Ohio, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported. 

There was a wide variety of dry leaf and vaporization cartridges and pods to choose from at the dispensary I visited. But there was a very limited selection of products that didn’t need to be inhaled, which I preferred because of my pulmonary sarcoidosis. 

Trial and error

Be prepared to explore. You’ll find products containing various levels of THC, which produces a “high,” and CBD, which is not psychoactive. Ohio Marijuana Card explains the differences and benefits. Determining what works best for your needs and at what proportions will involve some trial and error. 

I’m still early in the process. I’m thankful to be among the more than 3000,000 Pennsylvania has approved to buy medical marijuana. But given the necessity of spending hundreds annually just to access cash-only products, I wonder if cost will drive me away from any health benefits, too. 


Brighter side: We all could use a break from bad news right now. So, I’ll be closing my columns with a roundup of positivity until we are able to say goodbye to masks, hug our loved ones, and leave our homes without fear.

  • Not your average bookshelves: If you collect literary works, BuzzFeed staff wrote about a cool way to liven up your shelves: book nooks. The shelf inserts fit between books, providing a diorama of scenery inspired by stories and ordinary life. “Harry Potter,” “Blade Runner,” and “Star Wars”-themed book nooks are among 14 shared by BuzzFeed. Enjoy!
  • The Oreos are safe: There was little chance that an asteroid would strike the planet this month, but if it did, Oreo cookies were safe. Nabisco has a stash of the iconic cookies, their secret recipe, and powdered milk in a newly-built vault, Nerdist reported. The Global Oreo Vault is asteroid-proof and located in the permafrost of Norway. 


Note: Sarcoidosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sarcoidosis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.

Comments avatar

Researchers there had destroyed incurable brain cancer tumors in rats by injecting them with
THC. Cannabis will be the only thing that doesn't permanently damage your body, and even though
there are a few folks who don't care about their unique safety and lives, most everyone is not trying to throw away their futures
to get a quick high. Service people who're treated at VA hospitals and outpatient facilities will probably
be permitted to use medical marijuana inside the 14 US states where it's currently legal.

Gail Knight avatar

Gail Knight

Greetings from Maine! I have sarcoidosis and use medical marijuana for the chronic pain and inflammation-it has been a miracle for me and countless others- my husband and I also grow and market it as registered MMJ Caregivers- sadly as they regulate and tax it- it becomes increasingly expensive and out of reach to the average patient. Being From PA myself- hopefully they find a way to cover it under insurance for anyone with illness in all the states in the US.

Pamela Parker avatar

Pamela Parker

CBD as a product has been studied for many years, but much early research was suppressed as it did not fit with the prevailing political and legal rhetoric of recreational drugs being harmful. Backing up science reports on CBD, many users report how it helps them to de-stress, sleep and relax. Marijuana is a Schedule controlled substance not because it is more dangerous than morphine or cocaine (it isn’t) but because it has no scientifically proven medical use.

Lettie Haynes avatar

Lettie Haynes

It's Not like that in Missouri I paid 50 for the Dr visit and 25 for my card and you can go straight to the site with a Dr statement from your Dr and APPLY for just 25 dollars..
Yes.our dispensary just started opening in 2021 Jan.. but I had my card for almost 10 months..our dispensary are higher than the WEED man and it taxes hella high as well ..but you know what you are getting and you know what going in your body.. whereas the weed man you might end up with more than just WEED.. I never ever smoke anything but weed and all my drs know..but I tested positive for cocaine..and fentanyl they put it on weed to make it stronger and more addictive..from my research..that stop me in my tracks from buying street weed and my neice was the same way she tested positive also for both drugs other than WEED..


Connie Webster avatar

Connie Webster

I too have Sarcoidosis, in all body systems. I use Indica gummies to reduce pain to sleep. What do you recommend in addition to the gummies? I live in Florida, a medicinal use only state.


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