When the states of Washington, Colorado and California legalized marijuana for personal use it cracked open a door that will only grow wider in the years to come.
Already legal in many states and the District of Columbia for medical use, the spreading legalization of marijuana is raising questions for consumers who may be more likely to partake as the stigma of illegality fades away.
SoHazy.com asked some of these questions regarding legal weed.
Will My Health Insurance Cover Legal Weed?
Typically USA insurers are reluctant to cover it because of conflicting laws. In spite of the growing number of states approving pot for medical use, and some for recreation, the drug still is illegal federally.
But the biggest hurdle for insurers is that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved it.
Major insurers generally don’t cover treatments that are not completely approved by the FDA, and that approval depends on safety, effectiveness and side effects.
From the FDA website:
[su_pullquote]The FDA has not approved marijuana as a safe and effective drug for any indication. The agency has, however, approved one specific drug product that contains the purified substance cannabidiol, one of more than 80 active chemicals in marijuana, for the treatment of seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome in patients 2 years of age and older.[/su_pullquote]
[su_pullquote]The FDA has also approved two drugs containing a synthetic version of a substance that is present in the marijuana plant and one other drug containing a synthetic substance that acts similarly to compounds from marijuana but is not present in marijuana.[/su_pullquote]
[su_pullquote]The FDA is aware that there is considerable interest in the use of marijuana to attempt to treat a number of medical conditions, including, for example, glaucoma, AIDS wasting syndrome, neuropathic pain, cancer, multiple sclerosis, chemotherapy-induced nausea, and certain seizure disorders.
Research can take years and millions of dollars.
While the FDA has approved treatments like Marinol that contain a synthetic version no one has gained approval for a treatment that uses the whole plant.
That will Change With Growing Acceptance, Right?
Maybe, but not as quickly as proponents are hoping.
Everything submitted to the FDA has hoops through which to jump before being granted precious approval.
Researchers will need to ascertain the likely side effects of long-term use before the FDA will even look at approving marijuana. Marijuana’s Schedule I classification under the Controlled Substances Act makes it difficult to conduct clinical studies.
The classification means the drug is considered to have a high potential for abuse. That means extra precautions are required in order to study it.
Researchers have to apply to the FDA to approve their study. Public Health Service, an arm of the Department of Health and Human Services, will also review it.
The Drug Enforcement Administration will issue a permit after researchers prove that they have a secure place to store the drug.
Researchers also have to explain the study plan to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, another agency within Health and Human Services.
All of these loose ends will need to be brought together before your insurance company will begin its own studies on coverage amounts and limits.
Anything Else I Should Know?
Yes, your homeowners and renters coverage won’t apply either.
Deborah McDonald, a 45-year-old woman with terminal brain cancer who lives Clarkston, WA filed a claim after 10 legally grown medical marijuana plants were stolen from her rented home last spring.
Her renter’s insurance company refused to pay. McDonald sued.
The judge granted judgment to Farmers Insurance, stating that because the marijuana plants didn’t have a “market value,” the company wasn’t on the hook for damages.
But Bob Dylan said it best. The times they are a’changin.