Article by Emily Gray Brosious, Extract
Medical marijuana is now legal in 28 states and the District of Columbia, but as far as the federal government is concerned, the drug has no legitimate medical use. Federal programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, which provide health insurance to low income and elderly Americans, do not cover the costs of medical cannabis. Neither do private insurers.
Despite major medical marijuana reforms across the country in recent years, patient access remains largely defined by economic status.
Illinois resident and medical cannabis patient Maryjo Piper knows this reality all too well.
Piper lives with severe injury-related pain, permanent nerve damage, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety.
“I was on fentanyl, oxycodone, so much garbage before, and all it did was give me more pain,” she told Extract in an interview. “I can tell you, with marijuana it’s like night and day for me. It’s like having your life back again. All the constant pain firing off in my arm stopped. It was so amazing to feel that way.”
Because of her injuries, Piper can’t lift her arms or physically work. She relies fully on disability benefits for income. But disability benefits are limited, and medical marijuana is expensive.