66% of Medicare beneficiaries support medical marijuana coverage: How many use pot and for what?

Representatives room approved the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Clearance Act (MORE) April 1, sends it to the Senatea move that signals possible marijuana reform.

Most industry experts agree that reform is very unlikely to happen this year.

At the same time, more and more states are allowing access to marijuana, with 37 states across the United States having some form of legal medical marijuana program.

With so many states allowing legal access to medical cannabis and possible reform on the horizon, what seems to be the problem?

Well, despite these legal markets for medical marijuana, cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, being classified as a schedule 1 substanceor in other words, it is considered to have no recognized medical value and a high potential for abuse. This means that health insurance does not cover medical marijuana.

How many Medicare beneficiaries actually use marijuana? Should Medicare expand coverage to include cannabis?

To find out what recipients of a government health insurance program in the United States think about these issues, MedicarePlans.com conducted a survey interviewing 1,250 people aged 65 and over. The survey found, among other things, that older people use medical marijuana to treat a plethora of conditions.

Key points to remember

  • One in five Medicare beneficiaries (21%) use medical marijuana (some 23% have used it in the past);
  • 66% of Medicare beneficiaries “strongly agree” or “agree” that Medicare covers medical marijuana;
  • 38% of Medicare beneficiaries who use marijuana for medical purposes do not want Medicare to cover them for fear that it will drive up prices;
  • 59% of those who support Medicare coverage for medical cannabis say it’s because cannabis can be effective when other treatments are not.

Other results

  • Medicare beneficiaries who identify as Democrats are more likely than Republicans to use medical marijuana.
  • 32% of Medicare beneficiaries who use medical marijuana do so to treat anxiety, while 31% use it to deal with chronic pain.
  • Around a quarter of medical marijuana users turn to the substance to treat depression, glaucoma and symptoms associated with HIV/AIDSincluding nausea, loss of appetite and pain.
  • Half of users report spending up to $200 per month, while 36% spend between $201 and $500 per month. 14% report spending more than $500 per month on medical marijuana.

Photo: Courtesy of humberto chavez on Unsplash.

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