In an ideal world, patients would have easy, affordable access to the medicine that helps them. Unfortunately, when the medicine is derived from marijuana – still illegal under federal law in the United States – and the cost has patients seeking taxpayer subsidies, things get complicated.
Journal reporter Dan Boyd wrote Nov. 3 about the steep costs for New Mexicans who rely on medical marijuana. A Los Lunas mother of a 3-year-old girl with a rare form of epilepsy says she is dishing out $300 for about a month-and-a-half supply of cannabidiol (CBD) oil, the only medication that effectively reduces her daughter’s seizures.
Anyone’s financial struggle to afford medication – especially for a child — is heartbreaking. There’s no question the pocketbook pain is real for families footing their own bills. And there is some medical and more anecdotal evidence that cannabis and cannabis-derived products can be uniquely helpful in treating a number of medical conditions.
But at the end of the day, New Mexico can’t risk its billions-with-a-“b” in federal Medicaid dollars by bringing an illegal Schedule 1 drug into the coverage fold, a process it could pursue by requesting a federal waiver to allow Medicaid to cover medical cannabis costs in the state. No state has done this, because there’s simply too much at risk. Even if New Mexico covered medical cannabis costs with just state dollars, is there a chance this could jeopardize all the federal dollars the state gets?