I need to ask you and the NY State Legislature to address the prohibitive laws on medical marijuana in our state. This is my experience, as a New York state resident, who has a current prescription for medical marijuana.
First off, I have fibromyalgia and lupus. These are the diseases that include widespread neuropathy and make me a candidate for a medical marijuana prescription. I had to see a doctor, separate from all the doctors I already see, because doctors have to jump through hoops just to be able to prescribe the medication. It’s not being treated like any other medical prescription in so many ways, and the result is that the burden is being put on patients.
It took me about a month to get the card, having had to send all my records to this new doctor, just to get approved. The 1 visit to see that doctor cost me $200. I have a $2,600 high deductible for my insurance, and that’s important to note. Every expense I undertake will either go toward that, or it will end up going against my $2,850 out of network deductible, or not count toward anything. My prescription card is only valid for 1 year, so I have to do this again every year. I don’t have to do this for any other medication I take. Not for gabapentin, which has many bad side effects. Not for flexil, prilosec; none of them.
Once I could finally get this prescription, I had to make an appointment online, with the only dispensary in my entire city, across the county. They are only open at times I am at work, and I can only go to them. They will deliver the prescription, but they charge $20 more for that service. I believe they have a monopoly in our state, and is the only option for New York residents, to get medical marijuana.
When I went to the dispensary, I had to put my prescription card, certificate and license, up to a camera, to even get let in the door. That let me into a double doorway. From here, I had to slide all the aforementioned identification and cards into a bank tellers slot, before I would be let into the waiting room. Once in the waiting room, I am given a laminated list of things I cannot do at the dispensary, including recording anything on your phone. An armed guard takes your identification and cards, and escorts you into another room with the pharmacists, where you can get your prescription filled.
This isn’t oxycontin, it’s not an opioid. It doesn’t even get you high. It’s mostly an anti-inflammatory remedy and is completely mild. If there were commercials for medical marijuana the side effects would be so few, most wouldn’t think it was a commercial for prescription medicine.
There are 3 blends, and that is it. The pharmacists will recommend you try all 3, to find the one that helps you the most, and that’s it. I opted for the tincture version and a 50/50 blend to start. The tincture is the dropper that you put under your tongue. There is a pill form, but that is more expensive and takes longer to take effect. There is also a vape pen, but the pain relief doesn’t last as long, so you may end up using it more often. The suggested (max) dose is .5 ml 2 x a day. The tincture bottle is 7 ml and that means 1 bottle will last 1 week. A bottle is around $50. That means costs around $200 a month.
Of course, I have insurance and I’m responsible, so I contribute $2,000 a year to my HSA. But none of that makes a difference. At this only dispensary, this only choice I have to get my prescription filled, I can only pay cash or debit card. I can’t use my HSA. They just started allowing users to use their care credit card, which is great. Now I can get a credit card, and rack up debt. Thanks for that. But I can’t use my HSA card, and the cost doesn’t get processed through my insurance and it won’t count against my $2,600 deductible.
The reason I’m bringing this to your attention, is that the medical marijuana does help a lot. I have taken to only using it sparingly, because the cost and the process to refill is so prohibitive. I use it on the weekends, or when I want to get some house work done. I used it yesterday, to re-arrange my bedroom. After about 4 or so hours, my pain started to creep back in, and I knew the meds had worn off. If the medicine was more affordable, and easier to refill, I would have taken another dose, so that the residual pain from living a quality life, didn’t have to be so bad.
This is not an addictive drug. It doesn’t even alter your mind. It eases pain and allows people with chronic pain to live a fuller life. Yet for some reason, it is treated like a dangerous narcotic. I had surgery last year, and was given a script of 40 opioid pills. I still have more than 35 of them. No doctor took any steps to make sure I didn’t over use them. They were handed out like candy.
Medicine is being prescribed and controlled in a backwards fashion in this country, and this state. I’m bringing this to you, because you can improve this at the state level. You can make it so that the burden and expense isn’t being placed on the patient. You can make it so that this is more affordable, gets processed through my insurance, can be processed through HSA, that more dispensaries and more competition are allowed and encouraged in our state, and that people like me don’t have to ration what is primarily a completely non-addictive, anti-pain and anti-inflammatory med.
Please make this a priority. Cut the red tape, and help New Yorkers with chronic pain.