Medical marijuana too expensive for some patients

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – New York’s medical marijuana law went into effect in January, but many patients said they still don’t have access to the medicine.

Many patients said they can’t afford the medicine. The market dictates the price, which is only disclosed between the company and the New York State Department of Health.

In addition, if a patient wants a certification that looks like a license, it’s an added expense that can cost up to $200. Health insurance also doesn’t cover it.

“It’s kind of a lost cause for some people,” cancer survivor Nancy Rivera said.

Rivera had high hopes when the state legalized medical marijuana, but she said the medicine is still out of reach for many patients.

“It’s impossible to afford it,” she said.

First is the $50 registration fee. Then there is a doctor’s visit to become a certified patient.

“$100 to $250 per visit, and the doctor wants to have more than one consultation with the patient,” Rivera said.

Then, patients must again reach into their pockets to pay for the medication.

“Future doses for a month’s worth can be $2,000,” Rivera said.

That’s because federal law hasn’t decriminalized marijuana, so health insurance doesn’t cover the medicinal form.

“A lot of people are going to end up going back to their black market source,” River said.

A local medical marijuana patient spoke to NEWS10 ABC over the phone. She said she may purchase marijuana illegally.

“I probably will,” she said.

She asked that her identity be concealed, but she admitted the process has made illegal weed tempting.

“The oral spray that goes under your tongue and the capsule was almost $300,” she said.

She said that was the cost for a month’s supply.

“It helps some but it doesn’t lessen the pain,” she said.

“Is it worth the $300?” NEWS10 ABC reporter Rachel Yonkunas asked.

“I would say, at this point, no,” she responded.

Etain, LLC. has a dispensary in downtown Albany. It tried to lessen the burden for patients because there is no relief for prices. Because the vaporizer is the most expensive, the company is giving patients a free vape pen and charger with their initial purchase.

In April, medical marijuana advocates will be bringing some recommendations to the Capitol in hopes of amending New York’s law.

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