Why Health Insurance Won't Cover Your Medical Marijuana
Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Thu, May, 8th 2014 by THCFinder
Patients who use medical marijuana for pain and other chronic symptoms can take an unwanted hit: Insurers don't cover the treatment, which costs as much as $1,000 a month.
Once the drug of choice for hippies and rebellious teens, marijuana in recent years has gained more mainstream acceptance for its ability to boost appetite, dull pain and reduce seizures in everyone from epilepsy to cancer patients.
Still, insurers are reluctant to cover it, in part because of conflicting laws. While 21 U.S. states have passed laws approving it for medical use, the drug still is illegal federally and in most states.
But perhaps the biggest hurdle for insurers is the U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn't approved it. Major insurers generally don't cover treatments that are not approved by the FDA, and that approval depends on big clinical studies that measure safety, effectiveness and side effects.
That research can take years and millions of dollars. And while the FDA has approved treatments like Marinol that contain a synthetic version of an ingredient in marijuana, so far, no one has gained approval for a treatment that uses the whole plant.
As a result of the obstacles, advocates for medicinal marijuana say insurers likely won't cover the drug in the next few years. In the meantime, medical marijuana users — of which advocates estimate there are more than 1 million nationwide — have to find other ways to pay for their treatment.
Bill Britt, for instance, gets his supply for free from a friend whom he helps to grow the plants. Britt lives mostly on Social Security income and uses marijuana every day for epileptic seizures and leg pain from a childhood case of polio.
"I'm just lucky I have somebody who is helping me out, but that could go away at any time," said Britt, 55, who lives in Long Beach, California. "I am always worried about that."
Insurers have not seen enough evidence that marijuana is safe and more effective than other treatments, said Susan Pisano, a spokeswoman for America's Health Insurance Plans, an industry trade group.
Marijuana's Schedule I classification under the federal Controlled Substances Act makes it difficult to conduct clinical studies that might provide that evidence. The classification means the drug is considered to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. And 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, another arm of the Department of Health and Human Services, also may review it, a process that can take months.
The Drug Enforcement Administration has to issue a permit after making sure researchers have a secure place to store the drug. Researchers also have to explain the study plan to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, or NIDA, another agency within Health and Human Services.
Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com
Medical-marijuana bill now includes cancer, MS, other ailments
Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Wed, May, 7th 2014 by THCFinder
People who have cancer, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis or other ailments could be able to use medical marijuana under the expanded "Charlotte's Web" bill awaiting the governor's signature.
The original proposal targeted only a limited number of children with debilitating seizures, but the bill's final wording means Florida will be taking a much larger step toward legalizing medical marijuana.
"It is very important to me to have cancer as a qualifying ailment," said state Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Shalimar, who sponsored the original House bill and shepherded many of the last-minute changes, including the cancer addition.
Gov. Rick Scott said last week he would approve the bill, but his office on Tuesday did not comment on the changes.
If Scott signs the measure, the Florida Department of Health would select and license five companies — one in each corner of the state and in Central Florida — to grow a marijuana variety bred to have a low content of the THC chemical that can get people high and a high content of the CBD chemical that is thought to improve nerve-cell function and shows promise in treating malignant tumors.
The companies would be able to harvest the plants and extract an oil first commercially introduced in Colorado under the brand name "Charlotte's Web." And they would be able to sell the oil in their own dispensaries, which the state could authorize throughout Florida.
As early as Jan. 1, Florida doctors could start registering patients to buy and use the oil if the patient is "suffering from cancer or a physical medical condition that chronically produces symptoms of seizures or severe and persistent muscle spasms," according to the revised bill.
Medical-marijuana opponents say they are concerned about expanding the range of potential abuses.
"Would a physician treating someone for nonmalignant skin cancer be able to place an order? What about someone who has persistent leg cramps?" said Calvina Fay, executive director of Save Our Society From Drugs.
The final bill still is far from creating the kind of broad medical-marijuana legalization that Florida voters will consider in November when they decide Amendment 2.
Unlike the Charlotte's Web bill, the ballot initiative would not limit THC content; it would legalize smokable marijuana; and it would authorize treatment of a much broader range of diseases.
Still, the bill — the final version was known as substitute Senate Bill 1030 — creates a state regulatory, licensing and oversight bureaucracy that could serve as the framework to support Amendment 2 if it is approved, or to handle future expansions of medical marijuana authorized by the Legislature.
Gaetz called the bill "a start" and said he expects it to be built upon.
He said he still would like to see Florida address conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, Alzheimer's disease and dementia, which this bill does not. He also acknowledged that the low THC — limited to 0.8 percent of the oil — would make the oil ineffective for other treatments, including relieving the nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy.
Roadside Marijuana Saliva Test Gets Second Michigan House Hearing
Category: Nugs | Posted on Wed, May, 7th 2014 by THCFinder
LANSING- Just announced: the second hearing about the roadside saliva test for marijuana in Michigan will be Thursday, May 8, and there will likely be a vote on it.
The House Judiciary Committee took testimony previously on HB 5385 in April. During that hearing the Michigan State Police (MSP) representative, Sgt. Gill, told the Committee that some of the MSP leadership had returned from a convention in California and they liked the idea of the roadside test. The MSP sought permission to begin a pilot program in Michigan in which the MSP would determine which test was the most reliable and then roll out a statewide program.
That concept met with resistance, specifically from Rep. Jeff Irwin, D- Ann Arbor, who asked for legislative input on any program and for a scientific community assessment of the testing before any experimental program began. He also questioned why the bill did not articulate a pilot program, but instead authorized statewide use of testing by law enforcement. As a result of testimony given at that hearing, and subsequent appeals to the office of bill sponsor Rep. Dan Lauwers, R- St. Clair, the saliva testing portion of the bill is expected to be amended out.
We’ll believe it when we see it.
There is real reason for concern. The oral swabs are not approved for use federally in any capacity, but some private companies use the swabs in employment situations. No state has adopted laws like the one proposed in Michigan.
Each saliva test detects for a variety of substances, including cocaine, methamphetamine and alcohol; every brand of swab has differing accuracy rates for every substance tested. The manufacturing, accuracy and safety of these oral swabs are not regulated by any federal agency and are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
There has been no demonstrable need for the test, as illustrated through testimony delivered by marijuana community members during the first hearing. Standard testing methods already employed by the police have been successful, and the issue of driving impairment as a result of cannabis use has not been resolved.
A legislative analysis of HB 5385 failed to include any assessment of the costs of this roadside saliva test program; the analysis merely stated that the “fiscal analysis is in progress.” That document was dated 4/16/2014; the bill was introduced on 3/4/2014.
The saliva test is only one component of HB 5385. The bill was created out of tragedy as a woman, intoxicated on prescription pills, killed two people in an automobile accident and was later discovered to have had multiple encounters with law enforcement. Her test results from the previous encounters were stuck for months in the MSP crime lab testing backlog, which kept her on the streets. The bill was originally designed to allow officers to enter information into the LEIN system about intoxicated driving encounters without waiting for test results.
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