Why patients pay taxes on medical marijuana—and have trouble getting it covered by insurance

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  • Larry Zuehlke says:

    “I was suffering from cancer for the last five years. In those times, I needed to take chemotherapy 20 times. I lost a lot of money for this, but the result was not hopeful. Last year, I started to take this medicine now I am feeling better than the previous. Now I need more oil, or the taxpayers can pay for a stem cell transplant, then I will need to pay $10,000 per month for the chemo drugs to keep me alive.
    Let’s get this fixed now!!!”

  • Susan Dempsey says:

    I am currently taken medical cannabis for pain and Rheumatoid arthritis. I cannot afford to pay total prescriptions and in the next couple OS months have to apply for bankruptcy. My drug plan does not and doesn’t appear to ever cover cannabis. I really do not know what to do next. I really can’t afford it any more after 4years. Could you please advise of where to go now and how to get medical marijuana din so that it will be covered.

  • Lillian says:

    Whether there are significant double-blind studies or not ( and I do believe there is more recent work showing efficacy for arthritis pain) is besides the point. If I have a medical sign off from my long-time primary care provider, something that is not easily come by, then it should be good enough to not tax this and only this kind of prescription pain relief

  • Eloise says:

    So what cage do we have to rattle to get this covered, any idea?

  • Rob says:

    It’s medicine saved me from cancer, was given 32 months to live chemo did not work. Used Rick Simpson oil snd was cancer free in one month and in remission for 3 years.
    Now I need more oil or the taxpayers can pay for a stem cell transplant, then I will need to pay $10,000 per month for the chemo drugs to keep me alive.
    Let’s get this fixed now!!!

  • ben says:

    equality before the law, so if i have a medical condition, that does not require MM i dont pay taxes, but now i get diagnosed with another medical condition and now i have to pay tax on my MM. sounds discriminatory since certain conditions are more likely to need MM vs. others. sounds like certain medical conditions are treated way different than others whom dont need MM.

    Lets not kid ourselves its just a government tax ploy

  • Paul Gibson says:

    I only maintain my medical licence so that I can legally possess 120 grams of cannabis. LP products are not the highest quality. But they are usually the highest priced providers. Plus taxes? No way! The grey market still offers superior products, at a much lower cost than a LP would charge!

  • brittany says:

    The argument that cannabis isn’t proven to help with PTSD symptoms is false. We know there is reduced production on endocannabinoids in patients that develop PTSD, and this is largely responsible for the hyperarousal symptoms of PTSD as endocannabinoids reduce the release of certain neurotransmitters, which are excitatory, such as GABA-A. Veteran’s affairs covers medicinal cannabis for veterans with PTSD. Several patients have come off drug cocktails and find improvement with cannabis, and many other patients have tried several drugs that have either made them worse or done nothing at all. The argument that giving cannabis and seeing improvement could be entirely due to the placebo effect is an awfully flimsy argument as that line of reason would invalidate nearly all psychiatric drugs. Benzodiazepines are highly addictive yet are often prescribed preferentially as anxiolytics… these drugs actually can drastically worsen PTSD symptoms as they are positive modulators of GABA-A, which means they increase the likelihood that the channels that release GABA-A are open which can contribute to a serious rebound effect once the drug is metabolized. Antidepressants are often considered the best drug for PTSD symptoms, but have been shown to work is approximately 50% of patients, at best. If you give a patient an antidepressant and their condition improves, did the drug work or is it just a placebo effect? The government does cover the marijuana pill (synthetic 1:1 ratio of THC:CBD and goes by nabilone or cesamet), but this is hard to use during the day as you can’t opt for just CBD in the day. Why would the government cover a synthetic agonist to our cannabinoid receptors but not the natural organic version? We know cannabis is not nearly as addictive as many prescription medications and the warnings on some psych and pain meds are grossly understated. People will get their hands on and abuse almost any chemical/plant they can, so again, this is a poor argument and speaks more to needing to improve addiction services than it does to making traumatized people and/or those in chronic pain or dealing with cancer to pay several hundred dollars a month. If some of these lawmakers/politicians could also familiarize themselves with the differences between THC & CBD, that would also be great. We have 2 types of cannabinoid receptors (CB1 & CB2) and THC works on one and CBD the other and the concentration of these receptors differs in different regions of the body with the receptors CBD targets having a high concentration throughout the body, particularly in the immune system (spleen), and THC receptors are concentrated in the CNS.

    The government in general does not seem concerned with civilian trauma and addressing trauma through a variety of means, not just cannabis, could drastically improve addiction, suicide, abuse, and violent crime rates, along with decreasing unemployment and increasing overall productivity. The government needs to listen to patients and doctors who prescribe cannabis and follow patients. So many medications that have been proven to be highly addictive and come with dangerous side effects are practically handed out like candy… CBD could be a far safer alternative to give children and teens than benzos and prozaac. It’s already been proven how effective CBD can be for certain forms of childhood epilepsy. It would be interesting to see if giving patients high doses of CBD directly following traumatic experiences could lessen the likelihood of developing PTSD by decreasing the overall stress and subsequent hyperarousal responses, thereby lessening the overall aversive experience (imagine how amazing it would be to give someone who comes to the hospital to have a rape kit done a bottle of high quality CBD oil).

  • Stephanie Zolnai says:

    What about all these scares of abuse? Does that mean insurance companies don’t have fraud prevention measures to combat what they think is a “risk” to their business? Maybe they need another insurance option through the Government to have everyone feel “safe”. Medical users should not be the ones punished, I feel all kinds of laws are being broken in the name of greed off of the most vulnerable looking for a little relief. How many ways to feel the wraith of discrimination?

  • Monique Perry says:

    Thank you for sharing and spreading awareness! Cannabis is really indeed magical. As studies progress, it unfolds a lot of possible uses and applications in science and medicine. I hope this could be the future treatment of a lot of diseases. I hope that the insurance company will just look at it just like a standard medicine for mental condition and other condition.

  • Kevin Murphy says:

    Well if you will ask me regarding those statements I really suggest that they shouldn’t need to acquire taxes in using marijuana just for medicinal purposes it will be led to a bad situation.

  • Margaret Power says:

    I have worked all y life in Canada, Now I get my drugs as a senior for 4.11 each. Now I am in a great deal of pain, probably in need of surgical relief now. Although that is going to be a long time coming as after 6 months I have yet to get an appointment with a surgeon. I have problems with pain medications and the cannabis is a help. So why is this med not covered like the rest prescribed by my doctor. $4.11 against $80. Something is not right?

  • Marie says:

    $1500 is the cost of a one month supply for me. Sure it is better than nothing but really there needs to be more affordable cannabis and insurance companies should cover it under the normal medication plans. Hopefully one day this will be the reality but I wont hold my breath.

  • Karen Page says:

    This is one thing that the government should look at. Eye-opener post!

  • Jennifer Smith says:

    With the legalization of cannabis, I expect great change with medical cannabis regulation. Great article!

    • Jake Filmore says:

      What kind of “Great Change” were you hoping for? Government is going Against the Will of the Ppl yet again & are Taxing Medical Cannabis & Refusing to cover the cost for Ppl on Odsp, however they cover a small amount for Veterans? They’ve Both got Disabilities but only Vets get coverage? Many Ppl Can’t Afford the High Cost of LP S–t & will be Forced to accept Prescription drugs for Free instead of using Cannabis, which can be More Helpful than RX Drugs! Taxing Medical Cannabis will help keep the black market going, as will Forcing Ppl to buy Pesticide Ridden & Irradiated pot! No Tax on Medical Cannabis! Turdo Must Go 2019!

  • scooney says:

    This bothers me a lot that this is so expensive. I pay over $400 a month on stuff that literally ahs helped me off pills, it has helped me be able to walk without my medical knee braces for a few days at a time. This month because of Christmas and I have a big family, can’t afford medication so I will suffer which is sad as its medicine, and it helps but because it is not covered that is the reality of where this is with some I guarantee.

  • Tricia says:

    Can I still claim my medical cannabis on my taxes now that it’s legal ?

    • Jake Filmore says:

      Yes as long as you buy LP Poison! It is covered on Taxes, but only as a Non Refundable Tax Credit, which means you probably Won’t get much back.

  • Steve says:

    Dope for the dopes – it is unbelievable that this society is infatuated with drugs. We have problems after problems with tobacco, alcohol and opioids- now Trudeau makes another tier of dope legal – why for the tax revenue and votes. It is pathetic we now live in a drug culture promoted by the libtards and big business – just to make a buck. NO way anyone with any brains will take this crap– I hope they tax it 300% and give thes rest of us that do not use this crap a tax break.

    • Marie says:

      Cannabis hasn’t killed a single person and only helps people. It’s not like we’re talking about fentanyl, that is what they put me on when I cannot afford cannabis. Oh and fentanyl is free for me, I actually pay a lot of money to not have to take it. Think about that for a second, I choose to pay a large portion from my meager disability income instead of taking the fully government covered fentanyl. THE GOVERNMENT GIVES ME NARCOTIC OPIODS LIKE FENTANYL AND MORPHINE FOR FREE BUT I HAVE TO PAY $1500 FOR A FULL PRESCRIPTION OF CANNABIS THAT COMPLETELY REPLACES THEM. The government needs to get their priorities straight.

      • Jake Filmore says:

        Marie, I’ve gone through the Exact same situation as you with the Fentanyl! It costs over $800/mo for Fentanyl that leaves me stuck in bed & depressed as hell! Try buying from a reputable black market cannabis company, they offer a much Cleaner product with No Pesticides or Irradiation like LPs do! You should be able to buy it cheaper from black market & they Don’t Charge Tax! Our government has been given Petitions over this Tax on Medical Cannabis but CHOOSES to IGNORE them just like they Ignore Canadians in General everyday!
        I wish I could give you a name of a great place to deal with, but can’t do it here… Ask around & you will find a decent dispensary to help you, just Stay Away from LP S–t, it Could make you very ill! Good Luck staying off Fentanyl, it’s a terrible drug & we are Forced to RETURN our “Used Patches” to Pharmacy in order to get repeats! No Other Drug is Required to be Returned & I don’t know about you but I Don’t Like Being Treated Like A Criminal Just To Get My Prescribed Meds! No Tax is Charged on Prescriptions & NONE Should Be Charged On Medical Cannabis!
        Turdo MUST GO 2019!!!

  • Sher says:

    Personally I find this whole legalization frustrating for people whom use cannabis for medical use rather than recreational. I have used cannabis oil and CBD for last 2 yrs to help with chronic pain and arachnoiditis. Prior to it I was on very heavy does of Oxycontin, morphine, Tramadol…you name it, I’ve been on it.. I never felt well on Opiates. They made me tired, dizzy and life-less. The cannabis gives me hope. I don’t feel drugged out ,I can think and I’m able to do more than I could on Opiates. Sadly the high cost of cannabis via federally run companies is very expensive and is taxed. I don’t take the amount I should as cant afford to. Yet Oxycontin and other opiates are covered. How is this even fair?? Then lets add on taxes!! I feel the medical uses are getting screwed over here.

    • Jayney says:

      I feel Medical cannabis should be covered if it’s a medication !

    • Diane Gingrich says:

      That is exactly how I feel. I am provided opiates through government sponsored insurance but pay out of pocket for my cbd cannabis. I cant afford to buy nearly enough and its taxed to boot. I also have to pay for shipping now or buy larger amounts to avoid the fee. Pharmaceuticals are available without taxes or shipping fees(they can be picked up at a store front located in multiple locations in every town) and addiction is pretty much guaranteed from the opiates. This proves our government is not supporting us.

  • Bill says:

    Another liberal money grab I hope all those liberal clowns get a disability and need to deal with no coverage oh wait Justin will help them and any other new illegal that enters our country but not a born and raised Canadian keep stringing people out on opioids u bunch of clowns

  • Thomas Walker says:

    I find cannabis to be very beneficial. My mood is better. My mind is sharper and my disabilities are greatly helped. It’s greatest benefit is to the mind and it’s condition. For myself, I find life considerably more comfortable when using THC. And, since the mind is the epicentre of all that is real, the life value of this wonderful plant is precious.
    It should not be taxed as a medical benefit and should be sold at low cost to the people living in near poverty or lower. Government greed should be absent in its’ sale of Medical cannabis.
    We people of low incomes have no one to look to for assistance. Therefore we have no say in…anything!

    • Jake Filmore says:

      You are better off buying from the black market! Cheaper prices & Safer product’s, as most growers Don’t use Pesticides in general & Never to the extent of LPs! LPs can use approx 22 Different Pesticides & most Irradiate their Poor Quality sweg, Irradiation Kills most of the “Good” in the Buds. If you are 1 of the Lucky 1’s to have ins. coverage, then the only reason to buy their crap is so you can be reimbursed for it. Unless you have a really large prescribed amount & have other drug prescription’s with no ins. coverage, then you can claim a Small amount on income tax, but its Not my choice, I choose the “black market” I pay $4-$5 a gram for Excellent Quality cannabis & also make my own Cannabis Oils, CBD & THC Capsules, Creams, Tinctures & Edibles using the Magical Butter Machine. Many LPs have sent out Moldy, Pesticide Contaminated products that have caused medical patients to become Sick!
      There are Still black market Dispensaries in Ontario & many offer Prescription’s thru their own Doctor. It’s Your Health & it’s up to You if You’d rather Not use an LP & inhale their Pesticides then buy Pesticide Free from a Dispensary or find one on Social Media! Best of Luck!

  • al k says:

    if its prescribed its a medicine and should be covered

  • Rachel says:

    Why can’t readers write comments after Faces of Healthcare articles? Please change it so readers can leave comments.

    Thank you.

  • Rachel says:

    I’m tired of the attitude that patients are stupid and doctors and other professionals need to think for them and make decisions for them.

    Medical cannabis for medical use should not be taxed. Licensed producers are already overcharging for a poor quality product.

    • Diane Gingrich says:

      And they sell out of the desired product and suddenly begin to charge for shipping leaving the medical patients without or not being able to afford. I once bought cbd oil from an MOM LP that tasted like fish. (disgusting) I emailed my complaint and they wanted me to return it to them via courier. There was no guarantee my returned oil would be acknowledged, refunded, or that I would even be informed if my oil was tainted, or spoiled. But I’m forced to remain a medical patient and buy from LPs or risk not being able to return to my cannabis doctor


Wendy Glauser


Wendy is a freelance health and science journalist and a former staff reporter with Healthy Debate.

Seema Marwaha


Seema Marwaha is a general internal medicine physician, educator, researcher and journalist in Toronto.

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