(Johnny Green, The Weed Blog) – Marijuana is medicine. That is a phrase that I use a lot, and I use it because it’s true. It’s a fact that marijuana opponents try as hard as they can to deny, to the point that they do whatever they can to prevent research from occurring that proves that marijuana is medicine. If they weren’t afraid of the truth, and truly felt that marijuana does not possess medical value, then they wouldn’t have a problem with research because after all, it would prove them right once and for all. However, marijuana opponents are obviously wrong, which is why they try so hard to maintain the status quo.
The knowledge that marijuana is medicine is great, but for patients it’s only as good as the access in their area to medical marijuana. Knowing that something out there can help you is no good if you can’t actually obtain it, use it, and benefit from it. In a majority of states in America, there is no safe access to medical marijuana at all. Those states do not allow medical marijuana in any form, and even in some states that do (mainly CBD-only states), there is nowhere to legally obtain it.
Some states have medical marijuana programs, and have dispensaries, but the list to qualify to be a patient is short, and the number of dispensaries to serve the qualifying patients is even shorter, such as in New Jersey. There are of course other states that do have medical marijuana, do have dispensaries, and qualifying as a patient and finding a dispensary is not difficult (such as in Oregon, California, Colorado, etc.). Even in states like this, safe access to medical marijuana is elusive to some patients because of one other big factor – price.
Chances are if you have visited enough dispensaries in states that allow a lot of them (or at least tolerate them even if they aren’t technically allowed) you have noticed that price gouging is common. This effectively blocks safe access to a lot of patients, even though safe access is allowed in a state. For obvious reasons, this is wrong. I get that people need to make money because after all, it’s a business. But the medical marijuana industry should be about compassion too, and making medical marijuana un-affordable to patients that need it the most is heartless.
The desire to spread compassion should be a higher priority than the desire growing a pile of money in the medical marijuana industry. Otherwise, the medical marijuana industry isn’t any better than big pharma. Again, that’s not to say that people need to be the Nicola Tesla of cannabis, but it does mean that there needs to be a balance. One of my biggest pet peeves is medical marijuana industry members that tout their love of patients anytime someone asks about it, yet they charge the highest prices in town.
One trend that I see popping up more and more, thank goodness, is dispensaries creating compassion funds. People can make donations to the fund, and if the dispensary is legit they contribute to the fund in a meaningful way too, and the fund is used to help patients with a great need but that are low on funds. Canna and the City in Portland, Oregon is one dispensary that comes to mind that has a compassion fund, and I commend them. More dispensaries should be doing it, and I encourage TWB readers to only frequent dispensaries that do.
What do TWB readers think is a fair price for medical marijuana? Keep in mind that there needs to be a balance. In a perfect world medical marijuana would cost very little, but that would result in dispensaries closing down because they can’t pay their bills, so there obviously has to be a balance. At what price point does medical marijuana go past the realm of compassion into the realm of greed?
A version of the column appears on The Weed Blog.