Paying for medicinal weed

This is an amazingly dumb and naive question as my state will not be getting on this train anytime soon. Pennsylvania just legalized medical marijuana:

Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf today signed a bill that legalizes medical marijuana in the state of Pennsylvania. The state is the 24th to enact a legal medical-marijuana program, and although it could take regulators up to two years to draft rules for retailers, a provision in the bill lets parents administer medical marijuana to their kids immediately. As Democratic senator Daylin Leach, who co-sponsored the bill, told the Associated Press, “Marijuana is medicine, and it’s coming to Pennsylvania.”

Like New Yorkers, residents of Pennsylvania will need a prescription to obtain medical marijuana, and they’re prohibited from smoking or growing it. They can, however, take it in pill, oil, vapor, ointment, or liquid form. The bill also puts a system in place for tracking marijuana plants and certifying physicians, growers, and dispensaries.

My question is does insurance come into play at all in the other states with medical marijuana laws? I am assuming prescriptions of some sort are needed, and insurers may pay for over the counter medication if there is a prescription.

Or is this just cash and carry?






118 replies
  1. 1
    Origuy says:

    Cash, literally, since AFAIK credit card companies won’t handle marijuana transactions. It’s a big problem since dispensaries tend to be allowed only in high crime areas. MediCal won’t reimburse for medicinal pot, I know.

  2. 2
    Phylllis says:

    Or, if it is not a covered prescription, is it an allowable expense for reimbursement from a medical spending account?

  3. 3
    craigie says:

    California requires a “prescription” but these are obtainable on the spot. Or so they tell me…

  4. 4
    Mike J says:

    @craigie: Nobody is going to cover medical mj until recreational mj is legal. In CA, medical mj is a joke. Which is a pity for the people who actually benefit from it.

  5. 5
    Origuy says:

    In California, it’s legally a “recommendation”, not a “prescription”. So insurance companies don’t recognize them.

  6. 6
    Mike J says:

    And just out of curiosity, do people in CA ever get busted for bogus or no prescription? In this quasi-legal status, what percentage of people who are arrested for simple possession are minorities? In pre-recreational Seattle, the official policy was that it was still illegal, but enforcement would be the last priority. In practice, it was just another way to harass minorities. The city would annually arrest ~125 people for possession, ~100 of whom would be black.

    Medical marijuana without recreational marijuana is just another way for cops to let cops harass minorities.

  7. 7
    negative 1 says:

    Here in RI it’s cash and carry and no insurance companies will recognize them. I’m blatantly pro-marijuana for a lot of reasons and even I will say that the ‘medical’ part of medical marijuana is kind of a joke. One dispensary here was giving away free joints with a purchase of something else — sounds medical to me! Just like when I go to CVS and they give me free Claritin with the purchase of Arithromycin!

  8. 8
    zzyzx says:

    Medical laws passing now is like civil union laws a few years ago: an improvement over what was before but an event that seems like a solution for an earlier time.

  9. 9
    Geeno says:

    @Mike J:

    what percentage of people who are arrested for simple possession are minorities?

    All of them, Katie!

  10. 10
    Humboldtblue says:

    Marijuana is not recognized as an approved drug by the FDA and therefore insurance won’t cover it. I know a few people who have gotten recommendations for the drug for personal and recreational use but even with full legalization the Federal scheduling will still be the elephant in the room.

    Currently local legalization advocates are lobbying the Post Office to allow advertising for marijuana related businesses, currently it’s illegal to use the postal system for that purpose. Toss in banking and credit cards and you still have the huge federal hurdles to overcome when it relates to the cultivation, production and distribution of marijuana.

  11. 11
    Miss Bianca says:

    Cash and carry, here in CO. It’s not allowed to be anything but a cash business, because feds.

  12. 12
    🌷 Martin says:

    My question is does insurance come into play at all in the other states with medical marijuana laws?

    Insurance companies cannot cover marijuana even in prescription states. The FDA classifies it as a schedule I drug, and that stops the coverage right there – no recognized medical use. Presumably if it was dropped to schedule II or below it could be covered.

  13. 13
    The Other Chuck says:

    Let’s hope PA does it more sensibly than NY, which also has medical pot, but so restrictive that you have to be dying of cancer and on chemo to get a card, then go find a doctor who will fight the regulatory regime to prescribe it. It may as well be fucking plutonium.

    I’m happy to be living in the first state, now among a half-dozen, to treat its adult residents and visitors like adults when it comes to pot.

  14. 14
    The Other Chuck says:

    @Mike J:

    And just out of curiosity, do people in CA ever get busted for bogus or no prescription?

    Possession of up to a full ounce in CA without prescription is an infraction punishable by a $100 fine. No record. Basically it’s less than a speeding ticket. They’ll only ticket you if you’re being obvious about smoking it in public in places you shouldn’t be.

  15. 15
    Cacti says:

    @🌷 Martin:

    Insurance companies cannot cover marijuana even in prescription states. The FDA classifies it as a schedule I drug, and that stops the coverage right there – no recognized medical use. Presumably if it was dropped to schedule II or below it could be covered.

    What he said.

  16. 16
    Schlemazel (parmesan rancor) says:

    @Humboldtblue:
    The problem is that in order to be approved by FDA some double blind, peer reviewed, studies are going to have to take place to prove the efficacy of the drug as well as its safety. A hundred years of random anecdotes is not going to move the FDA (nor should it) so someone is going to have to design the tests and run the tests then have the results confirmed. I don’t see anyone interested in that time & expense unless they can profit from it. Medical dope is a dead end street, they need to move on to flat legalization.

  17. 17
    kindness says:

    Kaiser will not cover Medical weed under any circumstances here in California. As an employee you’d be foolish to ask for it as Kaiser doesn’t support the use of Cannabis in any way (individual physicians might but that is a private opinion, not Kaisers) and will fire you if you tell them you use weed even legally.

  18. 18
    trollhattan says:

    @Mike J:
    A good question. I know a few public defenders and will quiz one the next time I see him/her. My suspicion is no, a small amount won’t lead to a bust by itself. Confiscation? Maybe. Super low priority for law enforcement, since well before MM was legalized.

    Will add that on my occasional midday light rail rides, the car usually smells like an Amsterdam hookuah bar.

  19. 19
    The Other Chuck says:

    @kindness: As many have pointed out previously, due to the Schedule I nature of pot, they’re not allowed to cover it. But I’m sure our wise, enlightened, and functional federal government will get right on rectifying that.

  20. 20
    The Other Chuck says:

    @Schlemazel (parmesan rancor): It doesn’t take rigorous FDA studies to remove the DEA (not FDA) classification of Schedule I. My insurance covers fucking acupuncture.

  21. 21
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @Miss Bianca:

    But many shops here in CO have ATMs in the lobby. I know this because research.

  22. 22
    kindness says:

    @craigie: That prescritption thing. In order for California to get around the Federal rules when we legalized medical pot back in the 90’s, a physician’s recommendation is required. The legislature specifically required this recommendation because it would allow physicians to give the order without requiring them to write a prescription for it. See a physician can’t write a prescription for it, it’s a Schedule 1 drug. Any physician who tried to write a script for pot could have their license taken away. But recommending it doesn’t jeopardize their job.

  23. 23
    Epicurus says:

    @The Other Chuck:

    But I’m sure our wise, enlightened, and functional federal government will get right on rectifying that.

    They will take care of it as soon as they get around to holding hearings for Judge Garland. Can’t we sue the Congress to get our money back? They have been taking paychecks under false pretenses for the last eight years…on a more optimistic note, i did see a recent article the the DEA was considering removing cannabis from Schedule I. Long past due.

  24. 24
    Miss Bianca says:

    @A Ghost To Most: True, dat. Which I also know because…uh…”research!” that’s what the kids are calling it these days!

  25. 25
    Mike J says:

    I’m sure the Republican replacement for the ACA will settle all these questions.

  26. 26
    Schlemazel (parmesan rancor) says:

    @The Other Chuck:
    Thats true, the insurance companies are able to do whatever they want. I still don’t see them being excited about covering it though. Maybe the chiropractors can add it to their bag of woo. We still need to just make it legal & be done with it

  27. 27
    🌷 Martin says:

    I don’t think it’s out of reach that marijuana will have a schedule review. It should probably be down in IV/V, so moving it to II for the simple purpose of opening it up to medical research isn’t wildly controversial. Peyote is a schedule I drug with an exception for native american groups. LSD is a schedule I drug and the FDA has expanded access to researchers. The states are making the federal position increasingly difficult to maintain.

    The problem has always been the alcohol lobby which has worked hard to keep it at a I drug and with enough states legalizing it the alcohol lobby will be neutralized. We’ve got to be approaching a tipping point here.

  28. 28
    srv says:

    If we pay people to not work, we might as well pay them to be high.

  29. 29
    🌷 Martin says:

    @Schlemazel (parmesan rancor):

    Thats true, the insurance companies are able to do whatever they want.

    Actually, they aren’t. Acupuncture isn’t medically regulated. The insurance companies can cover anything unregulated and anything that the FDA regulates as medically beneficial. Schedule I drugs are unique in being medically harmful. There are devices in that category as well that insurers cannot cover either.

  30. 30
    glory b says:

    Coincidentally, this weekend I was listening to Latino USA on npr and the topic was the legalization of weed and how neatly black and brown people are cut out of the mix. A regular bank won’t give you a start up loan, the cost of the state and local licenses (I think this was Colorado) are in the tens of thousands of dollars, and if you have a drug conviction, you’re prohibited from getting a license.

    And, yes, banks won’t touch this in any way, so it’s an all cash business. Rachel Maddow had a special on the business and they pointed out that a down side is sooooo much cash to handle. One of the related businesses getting a boost is the safe business, along with the machines used to count cash. Funny moment, when Rachel went into the facility where the weed was grown and processed she said, “Smells like college!”

    A new investment group has been established to invest only in weed businesses. It’s second round of funding proposals yielded $75 million. They are funding a corporation that has licensed Bob Marley’s name to put on a catalog of upscale varieties and paraphernalia ($78 for a rolling tray).

    One interviewee said it was amazing that rich white people are now getting rich from the same thing that puts black and brown people behind bars. At the conferences for the business that are being held now, they said you hardly see anyone of color, it’s all white folks in suits.

  31. 31
    🌷 Martin says:

    @srv: Maybe if Republicans in Congress all got high, they’d get back to work? Sure, let’s try it.

  32. 32
    Dr. Bloor says:

    Marijuana will be a top tier drug with a heavy copayment. Those opting for lower tier generics had better enjoy smoking oregano.

  33. 33
    Humboldtblue says:

    @Schlemazel (parmesan rancor): Full legalization is on the way and folks up this way are preparing for it. Local cities have introduced new ordinances regulating the cultivation, production and distribution as has the county and with the passage of the latest medical marijuana package the basic framework for full legalization is being established.

    Local black market growers hate it because it’s going to mean the end of a very lucrative if illegal business but the trade-off is legitimate businesses operating in legitimate fashion and that includes the removal of the terrible environmental degradation that comes with large illegal commercial grows.

    Oddly enough, the greatest concern in Sacramento at this time is opioid use. A state legislator has introduced a bill that would authorize schools and trained volunteer staffers to provide emergency naxolone or a similar antidote to opioid overdoses. Even the local cops now carry it and are trained to administer it.

  34. 34
    amygdala says:

    @Schlemazel (parmesan rancor):

    The problem is that in order to be approved by FDA some double blind, peer reviewed, studies are going to have to take place to prove the efficacy of the drug as well as its safety.

    California funded such studies through a statewide initiative administered through UCSD. Shepherding a drug through the FDA approval process takes a drug company being willing to take it on, and Schedule I status is a deal-breaker.

    California decided to support research because the Feds would only fund research on adverse effects, not treatment.

  35. 35
    Butch says:

    Michigan requires certification from a doctor every two years and the illness has to be specifically recognized in the legislation but it isn’t what I’d call a “prescription.”

  36. 36
    negative 1 says:

    @Dr. Bloor: Shake pays the generic co-pays, Maui Wowie pays brand name!

  37. 37
    Bob In Portland says:

    In Oregon you have to get a yearly card validated by a doctor. We have Kaiser, and Kaiser officially doesn’t have anything to do with marijuana. Most doctors there have no problem with it though. So you get a copy of your medical files, send it to a marijuana doc, who generally gives you a thumbs up. Then you send the doctor’s form to the state and they send you back a card. It generally costs around $300-350 a year to go through the process, which is maybe around the break-even point depending how much and what you buy. Med marijuana purchasers don’t pay the tax on it.

    It’s kind of a pain.

    What’s actually a pain is because of the federal laws in place, the marijuana sellers can’t use banks, so they have to have a cash business. It makes the business unnecessarily dangerous having so much cash on hand.

  38. 38
    toschek says:

    In California, as I’m sure someone else has mentioned, it’s a straight cash transaction – although some dispensaries let you do debit card for the amount rounded up to the next $20 increment, e.g. product costs $54, they let you do an ATM-style withdrawal for $60 and refund you $6 which you can use to tip your salesperson/donate to a kitty to pay for meds for other patients who can’t afford it or pocket. They did allow credit cards for a while, but when Obama’s federal district attorney decided to crack down hard on the dispensaries, the credit card companies en masse decided they would no longer process transactions for medical MJ. For all I know the justice department threatened them with a RICO case. Likewise with health insurance/prescription plans. As far as I know they do not cover this stuff at all and probably for the same reasons — a legitimate fear of angering the justice department.

  39. 39
    Felanius Kootea says:

    @Schlemazel (parmesan rancor): If that’s the bar, no one is going to clear it. I remember reading in the Penn Gazette last year about a palliative care/hospice doctor called David Casarett. He’d gone from being a skeptic about marijuana having any benefits to a proponent of its use for hospice patients in a great deal of pain. From his description, the nightmarish process required to procure marijuana for an NIH-quality study means that a double-blind randomized control trial covering participants in many states is extremely unlikely. He was able to clear enough hurdles to publish some papers on the palliative benefits but I believe the sample sizes were small.

  40. 40
    Elizabelle says:

    From this weekend’s NYTimes: How Getting High made me a better caregiver, by Tom Huth

    Santa Barbara, Calif. — I’m 74 years old, and I have smoked marijuana almost every day since dinosaurs roamed the earth in the early ’70s. When my awareness is heightened, I’m on my game — the best I can be at thinking creatively, making decisions, focusing on my work, seeing the big picture … and caregiving.

    For 20 years my wife, Anne, has struggled gallantly [with] Parkinson’s disease.

    … In the days when I looked after her alone, I took a walk in the afternoons while she was napping. …Getting high enriched and enlivened these walks. Random images (patterns of sunlight and shade, the roots of a granddaddy oak) could be uncommonly gripping. Because the walks were more eventful, they felt longer.

    … Often I took Anne on road trips, to stimulate our aging brains. In the mornings, while she meditated in our motel room, I hiked around the neighborhood, through the parking lots of strip-mall America. The terrain was always shockingly disabused of its natural character. But I took those walks stoned. So one setting was just as compelling as the next: marching through the shadows of the KFC bucket and the Arby’s hat, then back into sunshine again, through the Toyota dealer’s lot — the Camrys posing with their doors flung open like a chorus line — past a payday-loan shop, a Cracker Barrel, an abandoned Kmart, a pawnshop, a Petco, their parking spaces separated by paltry no-man’s-lands of spoiled grass. … Marijuana excels at helping the wanderer see beauty in the ordinary.

    [Can you tell the author used to be a travel writer?]

    ….Anne is no stoner. She’s a lady. Yet marijuana has been an ally for her, too. It has distracted her from discomfort and anxiety. It has helped her to appreciate the splendors of the world beyond her mortal fix.

    Now she is housebound. Two or three evenings a week, when she seems alert, I put a few drops of cannabis oil (bliss, it is called) into a teaspoon and give it to her. She loves the taste, like vanilla, and sometimes it works to bring back her pretty-girl smile and deadpan humor. A long-gone expression might flash across her face. This is some kind of magic — the old Anne peeking out from behind the curtain.

    [Anne has a med marijuana Rx, and her doctor approves.]

    As marijuana moves toward legalization, advocates are rebranding it as a medicine. … Our old hippie habit is being turned into a medicinal-industrial complex. Only one subject is missing from the conversation: the marijuana high. That’s strange, because it’s still why most tokers toke — not to cure anything worse than boredom, but to wake themselves up, to feel inspired and transported and elevated by glimpses of an all-consuming all-is-wellness.

    Tom Huth is the author of the forthcoming book “Forty Years Stoned: A Journalist’s Romance.”

    Tom Huth would like it here at Balloon Juice, methinks. I wish I’d known about cannabis oil, aka bliss, if it existed, 25 years ago when my dad was in end stage cancer. My mom, more recently, too.

    Reefer Madness thinking is just another form of cruelty, in dealing with illness and anxiety, for sure. (Not opening the door to stoned airline pilots, although who knows if use off the job might be useful to them too, in event of depression/anxiety — hello there, Germanwings.)

    Huth says Carl Sagan was a stoner. Hmmm.

  41. 41
    CONGRATULATIONS! says:

    At the conferences for the business that are being held now, they said you hardly see anyone of color, it’s all white folks in suits.

    @glory b: Hate to admit it, but that’s the only way it’s ever going to actually get legalized. People of color are going to get entirely cut out of this business, because stereotypes still are brutally effective.

    Biggest problem this industry faces at the moment is the banking issue. Banks aren’t allowed to touch it because legally the money is classified as having come from “drug dealing”. That’ll take laws changing, and I don’t see those laws changing in my lifetime – and I’ll easily be around another 30-40 years or so, barring accidents. You never know. I said the same thing about gay marriage ten years ago.

    Also, whoever upthread said that the main opposition to this is coming from the alcohol industry. I very much disagree. They’d be all over this if there was a legal way for them to get their money into it. The main opposition to this is coming (and will come) from the police/prison-industrial complex. It’s their number-one moneymaker and job-insurance plan, and they’ll fight legally and illegally to keep it that way.

  42. 42
    Miss Bianca says:

    @glory b: yup. cray-zee. To my mind, this is why CO needs a state bank, just like North Dakota’s, set up explicitly to take weed money. And invest in minority-owned weed businesses. Maybe a coop or credit union would do the trick, as well…

  43. 43
    redshirt says:

    I wish the Democrats, specifically Clinton, would come out unambiguously in favor of full Federal legalization. It’s not a controversial issue, great for jobs and local economies, great for criminal reform, and a great issue to motivate young people to get out and vote. It seems like a no-brainer, but I’ve not heard a peep. Have I missed it being discussed?

  44. 44
    🌷 Martin says:

    @CONGRATULATIONS!:

    Also, whoever upthread said that the main opposition to this is coming from the alcohol industry. I very much disagree. They’d be all over this if there was a legal way for them to get their money into it.

    That’s not how entrenched businesses work. They don’t pivot – protecting the established business is the top priority. Here in CA, the dispensaries have been hassled most by the local bars – they’re the ones that contact the feds. Plenty of documented cases of that. And plenty of evidence that the alcohol lobby (among others, as you note) have opposed legalization.

  45. 45

    @amygdala:

    Shepherding a drug through the FDA approval process takes a drug company being willing to take it on

    It doesn’t necessarily require a drug company, just somebody who’s willing to pay for the studies and an organization to do them. So somebody could do it just to help get it off Schedule I if they felt like it and were rolling in cash.

  46. 46
    redshirt says:

    From a Federal perspective, how is it legal the state of CO (and others) are collecting tax money from drug sales?

  47. 47
    redshirt says:

    @🌷 Martin: He’s right though that the alcohol companies would jump into the weed business if fully legalized. It’s not that different then making beer. Same of course with the tobacco companies.

  48. 48
    tsquared2001 says:

    @Elizabelle: Thanks for the link. That was a terrific story.

  49. 49
    🌷 Martin says:

    @redshirt: It’s not. But the feds often give deference to state legislation – particularly when you have multiple states moving in concert and evidence of a national trend. This notion of the states being the laboratory of democracy isn’t lost in DC – they’ll usually allow something to play out provided that it aligns with their notion of where the country should be going. So democrats will let this run but hit hard on discriminatory laws, republicans often the reverse.

  50. 50
    Brachiator says:

    This was in the news April 7

    Through a letter sent to lawmakers this week, the Drug Enforcement Administration reveals plans to decide on changing the medical classification of marijuana in the next few months.

    Currently classified as a Schedule1 drug alongside heroin and LSD, marijuana is considered to have a high abuse potential and with no recognized medical use. Changing its federal status will help researchers better study its potential uses and benefits – a move that medical marijuana advocates have been pushing for.

    While still believed to have a high potential for abuse, Schedule 2 drugs – such as morphine and cocaine at present – maintain an accepted medical use for treatment and can be prescribed while being tightly regulated.

    “Reclassifying cannabis will make scientific research easier and will send a strong signal that the U.S. government is finally ready to acknowledge that marijuana has medical value,” says Marijuana Majority Chair Tom Angell in a Washington Times report.

    Signed by the heads of the DEA, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the letter states that the agency has obtained medical and scientific evaluations along with a scheduling recommendation from HHS, which it did not disclose. It adds that the DEA hopes to release a decision by the first half of this year.

  51. 51
    Mike J says:

    @redshirt: Federal law used to require purchase of federal tax stamps for marijuana, even though it was illegal to buy. If you were busted, they could then get you for failure to pay tax, too. If a dealer wanted to challenge CO law for collecting tax, they might have a case, but I think federal power dictating to states what they can and can’t tax is very limited, even if the product is illegal under federal law.

  52. 52
    Cermet says:

    @redshirt: LOL. Uh, you are missing the Elephant in the room – those Medical marijuana companies pay FEDERAL taxes! You really think the Feds turn down money!?

  53. 53
    Elizabelle says:

    Rational legalization would pull in a lot of BernieBro and PaulBro types, too.

    Plus assuage unneeded suffering. Not saying some folks won’t have adverse affects, but same deal with alcohol.

    Check with you guys later.

  54. 54
    Cacti says:

    @Mike J:

    but I think federal power dictating to states what they can and can’t tax is very limited, even if the product is illegal under federal law.

    About the only thing States can’t tax are Federal activities, or the exercise of constitutional rights. Other than that, they pretty much have a free hand to tax whatever.

  55. 55
    the Conster, la Citoyenne says:

    @glory b:

    Yup. It’s infuriating on so many levels. If I could suggest one thing to Clinton, it would be to address this issue and make it part of a comprehensive push to de-federalize the pot issue, and as part of making amends for the crime bill, make federal interest free loans or grants available to felons convicted on federal marijuana drug related crimes for cultivation or dispensing. Like how opiate addiction is a public health crisis instead of a law enforcement matter now that it’s a white people problem, the denial of people of color access to such a profitable income stream is a feature, not a bug.

  56. 56
    redshirt says:

    @Cermet: So essentially the Feds and marijuana states are laundering drug money via taxes?

  57. 57
    John Harrold says:

    @🌷 Martin:

    The FDA classifies it as a schedule I drug

    I see this a lot. I don’t believe the FDA is responsible for these classifications.

  58. 58
    Brachiator says:

    @Elizabelle:

    Huth says Carl Sagan was a stoner. Hmmm.

    True story. The Skeptic Society in Southern California had a celebration of Sagan’s life and work. Some myths shattered: that his marijuana use affected his scientific output, and that his popularity because of Cosmos distracted from his scientific output.

    Still, during some presentations, you got the sense that some of those present, including people who were scientists at Occidental College and CalTech, disapproved of Sagan’s pot smoking.

    Discussion about Sagan’s pot smoking carried over into the open bar reception.

    Even among supposedly super braniac scientists, pot bad, alcohol good.

  59. 59
    🌷 Martin says:

    @redshirt: I doubt that they would, actually. They haven’t in other countries.

    The issue isn’t making it, its that alcohol’s value is from the branding. They spend massively on brand. Marijuana is going to be very difficult to brand and it’s going to be very difficult to integrate with existing brands (impossible, for quite some time).

    Alcohol companies in aggregate have gross margins as high as 70%. The top brands higher than that. The marijuana industry is miles from that – a lot of uncertainty in terms of costs, and while the marijuana industry is branding and always has, until they can command significant premiums from that branding effort, they’re not going to be interested. Now, maybe down at the craft brew level you’ll see crossover, but that’s about it. The other companies are big multinational corporations – they aren’t going to do this.

    The business model for marijuana at a national level isn’t established. Without a clear business model, established business won’t enter. It’s only a space for upstarts right now.

  60. 60
    Hungry Joe says:

    So far no one has mentioned cultivation — i.e., grow your own. Once that’s legalized for small amounts — say, four to six plants — everything changes. A causal gardener won’t produce primo, top-o’-the-line stuff, but anyone with ten square feet of sunny yard will be able to keep himself and a sig other comfortably stocked with a ready, heady supply. The cost will be close to zero, and the work involved not much more than that.

  61. 61
    Miss Bianca says:

    @🌷 Martin: I am, however, willing to bet my left whatchacall that Big Tobacco has a business model for how they would proceed with industrialized pot production.

  62. 62
    amygdala says:

    @Roger Moore: I’m not sure Bill Gates has that much money. It really should come off Schedule I, regardless of any development plans. It makes *no* sense, in the middle of an opioid overuse epidemic bad enough to get CDC to publish guidelines to address it, that most of those drugs are Schedule II and marijuana is Schedule I.

  63. 63
    🌷 Martin says:

    @John Harrold: Yeah, in the case of marijuana Congress put it on the list, but I don’t think that’s the regular process.

  64. 64
    amygdala says:

    @John Harrold: I think it’s DEA and FDA.

  65. 65
    Heliopause says:

    I don’t have an answer for your question but here in Washington state the recreational shops advertise grams in the $6-10 range. A serious pothead might go through that in a few hours, if you just need a puff now and then it could last a couple of weeks. The latter is something most of us could easily handle out of pocket. Now if I could just get a decent IPA for 50 cents a bottle I’d be all set.

  66. 66
    🌷 Martin says:

    @Miss Bianca: Yeah, that wouldn’t surprise me. The sprits companies are in a pretty good position – public opinion isn’t against them. Tobacco companies are in a tougher spot and need to take some risks – they have a declining market in the US, and putting up a marijuana brand isn’t likely to hurt their existing properties.

  67. 67
    redshirt says:

    @🌷 Martin: Where is marijuana legalized at the country level? I know of not a one.

    I should have specified craft brewers as likely companies to get into marijuana business. The Biggies would eventually, but only after Federal legalization is firmly established. Then they’d buy up the smaller companies.

  68. 68
    Brachiator says:

    @🌷 Martin:

    The issue isn’t making it, its that alcohol’s value is from the branding. They spend massively on brand. Marijuana is going to be very difficult to brand and it’s going to be very difficult to integrate with existing brands (impossible, for quite some time).

    I really don’t see this as a problem once legal restrictions are lifted. From a recent article.

    The pot industry’s makeshift branding efforts, from celebrity names on boxes of weed to the many weed-themed T-shirts and stickers common in towns with a legal marijuana market, show the industry taking halting steps toward the mainstream.

    Problem is, those weed brands aren’t much more substantial than the labels they’re printed on. Patents and trademarks are largely regulated by the federal government, which considers marijuana an illegal drug and therefore ineligible for any sort of legal protection.

  69. 69
    Bob In Portland says:

    @redshirt: Too many of her donors make too much money to make marijuana legal. Sorry, those donations from private prison corporations actually do get results.

  70. 70
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @redshirt:

    Where is marijuana legalized at the country level? I know of not a one.

    Uruguay?

  71. 71
    redshirt says:

    @Bob In Portland: What is Sanders’ official stance on marijuana legalization?

  72. 72
    glory b says:

    @Miss Bianca: That was mentioned din the Latino USA story. Their people contacted Marlboro for a response, they pinky swore that they had no intention of getting into the marijuana business.

    I guess we’ll see.

  73. 73
    🌷 Martin says:

    @Heliopause:

    I don’t have an answer for your question but here in Washington state the recreational shops advertise grams in the $6-10 range. A serious pothead might go through that in a few hours, if you just need a puff now and then it could last a couple of weeks. The latter is something most of us could easily handle out of pocket. Now if I could just get a decent IPA for 50 cents a bottle I’d be all set.

    That’s a bit along the lines of what I was saying about branding. Serious drinkers don’t spring for the $5 IPAs unless they are rich – they go for Budweiser because it’s cheap. So the problem in the marijuana market is who the demographic is. If it’s serious potheads, then there’s no room for high margin upmarket products. It’s not yet mainstream enough for people like me, who might want to use once a week and would therefore be willing to pay 5x or 10x as much for what we believe is a better product (but probably isn’t). Even with full legalization, I doubt that you’ll get broad recreational use for some time. There are a lot of people that have never used and on-boarding them will be hard after decades of stigma. Eventually it will get there, but it’s going to be a while. That said, getting a trusted, desirable brand on-board would speed that up quite a bit. It’s a catch-22. And this is a big problem with our tendency to grow big multinationals – they are risk-adverse due to limited competition.

  74. 74
    🌷 Martin says:

    @redshirt: For medical? In varying ways Canada, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Portugal. Pretty solid markets. Mexico, but that’s a challenging market in other ways, and India, which is hostile to outside investment, so they don’t really count.

  75. 75
    redshirt says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Thanks. Just read a couple of articles about Uruguay and it sounds like it’s still a shaky work in progress.

  76. 76
    Miss Bianca says:

    @glory b: Yeah, and I would TOTALLY take the tobacco industry at its word, *anything* they said… ; )

  77. 77
    redshirt says:

    @🌷 Martin: Full recreational is the real question. If it’s just medical then yes, alcohol companies will not be involved.

  78. 78
    PurpleGirl says:

    NYS’s continuing ban on smoking marijuana makes medicinal marijuana unusable for some people. A friend suffers from incredibly bad migraines; migraines so bad that he can’t eat or even keep water when in the midst of one. So he could take a pill or take the liquid form and then he’d trow them both back up. When he visited me a few years ago, one migraine keep in bed for three days. Maybe the vapor would form would help but I don’t if he’s tried that. He has used imitrex and that helps but the doctors won’t prescribe him enough to last him a month. His situation is quite bad.

  79. 79
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @Hungry Joe:

    So far no one has mentioned cultivation — i.e., grow your own. Once that’s legalized for small amounts — say, four to six plants — everything changes. A causal gardener won’t produce primo, top-o’-the-line stuff, but anyone with ten square feet of sunny yard will be able to keep himself and a sig other comfortably stocked with a ready, heady supply. The cost will be close to zero, and the work involved not much more than that.

    Um, that depends on the grower and the quality of the lineage. If one were to, theoretically, posess a Trainwreck clone, one might be be able to grow weed superior to what one might be able to buy. The costs of the electricity used might, theoretically, amount to about $100/month. This is all theoretical, of course.

  80. 80
    J R in WV says:

    @The Other Chuck:

    And which state is that, if I’m not being too nosy? We visited Colorado friends a couple of years ago, and it was very low-key, relaxed. Even if you aren’t a user, the lack of tension about it is so very different from places where it is still seriously illegal.

    Here the Legislature just took action to put industrial hemp growers out of business! So I would say that even though the tax revenue would save the state budget, legal cannabis is still a hundred years away, here.

    So much for small government, personal freedom, etc, etc, Republican propaganda without a trace of truth in it. We’ll tell what you are allowed to ingest, and don’t try to ingest anything we don’t approve of!!

  81. 81
    Hungry Joe says:

    @A Ghost To Most: Electricity? I’m talking basics: Sun, dirt, seed, water. Pull a weed now and then. Harvest, dry, get high on your plenty decent-enough stuff.

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  83. 83
    redshirt says:

    @Hungry Joe: There’s not that many places in the US where you can grow marijuana outside year round. I’m thinking only CA? South Florida?

  84. 84
    AnonPhenom says:

    @🌷 Martin:
    Presumably if it was dropped to schedule II or below it could be covered.

    …but still subject to standard policy exclusions, such as:
    https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Prescription-Drug-Coverage/PrescriptionDrugCovContra/downloads/PartDDrugsPartDExcludedDrugs.pdf

  85. 85
    Miss Bianca says:

    well, I have to say i *do* hope this is one position of Sanders’s that he will insist on, when it comes time for HRC’s people to say, “let’s make a deal”…

  86. 86
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @Hungry Joe:
    Not legal in CO – plants have to be in a confined, locked space.

  87. 87
    Calouste says:

    @Raven Onthill :

    Too bad Sanders can’t be bothered to say anything about legalizing drugs on his campaign website. Although considering the mess of topics on that page, I might have missed it.

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    joel hanes says:

    @redshirt:

    It’s not a controversial issue

    Guessing that you live within 400 miles of the nearest seacoast, and north of the Mason-Dixon line.

    The culture warriors elsewhere are still kicking.
    Western Iowa will resist for another generation, at least.

  89. 89
    joel hanes says:

    @Miss Bianca:

    willing to bet … that Big Tobacco has a business model for how they would proceed with industrialized pot production.

    This is a known thing, Khaleesi.
    Trademark registration and branding plans were laid at least a decade ago.
    It is known.

  90. 90
    redshirt says:

    @joel hanes: You’re right. It polls nationally in the mid 50’s in support, but I’m sure that varies greatly by state. But I’m willing to bet it polls well in states that are likely to vote Democrat, and polls less well in states that tend to vote Republican.

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    redshirt says:

    @joel hanes: Can you give me a link? Because I’ve heard the “Philip Morris has marijuana packaging ready to go” for what seems like 30 years now.

  92. 92
    Miss Bianca says:

    @joel hanes: errr…”Khaleesi”? Is that like “kemosabe”?

  93. 93
    redshirt says:

    @Miss Bianca: Game of Thrones reference.

  94. 94
    joel hanes says:

    Can you give me a link?

    Nope. That’s why I used the exact words that Daenerys Targeryn’s uneducated servants use to affirm truthy common knowledge. I think it’s probably true, but have no evidence.

  95. 95
    redshirt says:

    @joel hanes: Heh.

    I assume with no evidence there are currently people at the big tobacco companies researching and monitoring this issue, but I’ve been hearing about Philip Morris branded marijuana smokes since the 80’s.

  96. 96
    Hungry Joe says:

    @redshirt: You don’t have to grow it year-round — a summertime crop could yield enough to last a year, or close to it … depending on the users, of course. As for rules concerning marijuana agriculture, in my original comment I said that WHEN people are finally allowed to grow their own it’ll really shake things up.

  97. 97
    redshirt says:

    @Hungry Joe: Maybe. I don’t think this would be a big thing though. Most people don’t garden, and plenty of people have no means to garden (city dwellers). Plus, if you’re that into marijuana that you’ll work to grow it, I doubt they’d be satisfied with the quality or the dryness of having one summer based grow season to provide marijuana in January,

  98. 98
    Mike J says:

    @redshirt: I’m pretty sure USPTO won’t grant a mark on an illegal product. Which doesn’t mean that a couple of people from the marketing department never did any mockups. I doubt they spent a lot of time or money on something that isn’t happening tomorrow and will probably take several years after the start of a real push for it.

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    redshirt says:

    @Mike J: Yeah, I’ve always assumed it was an urban myth,

    But I do sincerely think they’re seriously tracking the issue know. They’d be foolish not to.

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    A Ghost To Most says:

    @redshirt:

    I doubt they’d be satisfied with the quality or the dryness of having one summer based grow season to provide marijuana in January

    Or having seeds, or worst of all, having a nearby hemp field pollinating your crop. That will be a problem in the future for outdoor growers.

  101. 101
    goblue72 says:

    California MMJ at this point is back-door legalized. The “prescription” can be obtained from any number of MMJ docs – many of whom can be found via advertisement in your local alt-weekly. The cost for a scrip varies, but is generally under $200. Health insurance does not cover it. A scrip can be obtained for any number of ailments. I believe my personal prescription is for my “lumbago”. My “doctor” is a retired Kaiser physician who quite clearly spends their entire day high.

    And contrary to the above, its not a straight cash business in CA. Being the tech center of the universe, you can quite easily get your “prescription” filled via credit or debit card – courtesy the magic of Square + iPad. Same goes for the marijuana dispensaries, some of which are quite slick.

    The Apothecarium in the Castro, for example, has their daily menu on their website, they do delivery, and you can even purchase a gift card for your friends just like they do at Starbucks.

    BTW, you can thank California’s back-door legalization for why the domestic weed you smoke is so much better than what you parents grew up with – and has had the side benefit of eating into the profits of the Mexican cartels.

    Interesting New Yorker article on it from a few years ago: http://www.newyorker.com/magaz.....28/dr-kush

    And its going to get a lot bigger – http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04......html?_r=0

  102. 102
    PNW_WarriorWoman says:

    Cash ‘n carry. Press reports indicate that In the first year Washington State realized $70 million in tax revenue from marijuana sales. Many more states will join the party in the coming years. The next problem is problem with product. Though Washington requires quality assurance testing, it makes testing for pesticides optional. According to WAC 314-55-102(8).

  103. 103
    seaboogie says:

    @The Other Chuck:

    My insurance covers fucking acupuncture.

    I’ve only tried regular acupuncture, buy your kind sounds like fun….HMO insurance?

  104. 104
    Alain the site fixer says:

    When I signed up my kitten for pet insurance I asked if their extra “all medicine” coverage covered mmj tinctures and such for pets and they said yes, if it’s prescribed they do cover most of it. not people but it’s clearly an issue being considered. When I was In Colorado I knew a few mmj holders and I don’t think they got any insurance assistance. Oh and I’m not in a mmj state but hope to return to CO hence my inquiry.

  105. 105
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Alain the site fixer: speaking of which (CO, I mean, not mmj, altho’ we could discuss that too), you mentioned planning to come back to Canon City for a visit some time this summer. Any more concrete plans, such as dates?

    Applying for a library job at one of the CC prison facilities, so if interview/job offer comes thru’, no more thought of mj, m or no, for me for the foreseeable future! : (

  106. 106
    cmorenc says:

    @PNW_WarriorWoman:

    Though Washington requires quality assurance testing

    Where does one apply to become a marijuana “quality assurance” tester? What a great gig that would be.

  107. 107
    Bob In Portland says:

    @redshirt: Take it off the schedule one list. Decriminalize. Presumably let each state legalize it. My congressman, Blumenauer, is even better.

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    Darkrose says:

    @PurpleGirl: Vaping might work for him. There are also strips that you put under your tongue that dissolve in seconds; I’ve found those very effective when I’m having migraines.

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    Darkrose says:

    @Hungry Joe: Growing is a lot of work. For those of us who don’t or can’t smoke, it’s not real helpful, either; no way am I going to grow my own and then make the butter for edibles or hash oil for my vape pen. And I’m no chocolatier, like the people who make the amazing chocolate bars I buy. (Seriously, I wish they made some without weed; it’s that good.)

  110. 110
    Bob In Portland says:

    @A Ghost To Most: I grew a marijuana plant in the backyard last year. Not very hard. Just water it. Got about an ounce of pretty good weed (although you can buy great stuff in the stores), it was part of a neighborhood grow and so the guy across the street got some too). In Oregon you’re limited to growing four plants per household. We grew it in a large pot that was high enough so that the dogs couldn’t pee on it.

    One problem, though, is that some folks who had multiple plants were targets for thieves who’d wait until harvest time to rip you off.

  111. 111
    J R in WV says:

    @redshirt:

    Even if I were still a big smoker, I wouldn’t touch Phillip Morris or other tobacco company Cannabis smokes for any amount of gifting. They would put addictive poison in it to keep customers from drifting to another brand – it’s their nature, they can’t help it any more than the scorpion, or the fire ants.

    Colorado was nice to visit, we were there about 6 months into legality, and visited a smoke shop – it was like a pharmaceutical shop, all white, bright, glass and such. Clean, staff wearing white coats. Amazing contrast to the long-ago, far away.

  112. 112
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @Darkrose:
    Twenty minutes a day, and a couple hours here and there.

    Commercial weed in CO is often old, hard, dry, and sometimes laced with pesticide.

    Growing outdoors here is tough legally, and farmers are starting to plant test plots of hemp. Seeded weed, and the seeds may be worthless.

  113. 113
    redshirt says:

    @Bob In Portland: Can you give me a link to Sander’s positions on decriminalization? I’m really interested in this topic.

  114. 114
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @Bob In Portland:
    Funny story (to me, anyway): When I was in the USAF in Omaha (pre-piss test days), we rented a small house,and threw seeds in the backyard all the time. One grew into a 3 foot plant. A cop came by,looking for a lost dog. He saw the plant and mentioned it. We said it grew there itself. Being Nebraska,where ditchweed (hemp) grows wild, he stepped on the plant and left.

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    Brendancalling says:

    @craigie: they are. DoNE that.

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    Darkrose says:

    Kaiser is still on board the Reefer Madness train. If they find out you’re using even occasionally, they act like you’re a total stoner and want to push you into their rehab programs. I’ve never seen a medical professional quite as flustered as when I went to their migraine class and the woman next to me said she used cannabis to treat hers. The neurologist looked like he was going to shit a brick.

    Fortunately, getting a rec is pretty easy, at least in Sacramento. The News & Review, the local weekly, usually has several pages of ads for MMJ-related stuff, including dispensaries and clinics.

    What’s really annoying to me is the lack of research. For instance, I’ve found through trial and error that high-CBD edibles seem to help keep my blood sugar down. That’s pure speculation, though–I would love to see some actual clinical trials, because that could be huge.

  117. 117
    redshirt says:

    @Darkrose: CBD’s seem to be the key to the drug’s positive effects, but like you said, who knows without proper tests.

  118. 118
    a.morphous says:

    @Origuy: That is news to me since the med. dispensaries in SF are happy to take credit cards (I try to pay cash just to avoid having that on my record, but it’s probably a useless gesture).

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