Does Medicare cover medical marijuana?

What is medical marijuana?

According to the National Institutes of Health, medical marijuana refers to the use of the marijuana plant (cannabis) – either parts of it or the entire plant – to treat medical ailments. People also use the plant’s extracts on occasion.

With each passing year, more states are legalizing medical marijuana. That may make you wonder if medical marijuana is covered by Medicare in your state.

Cannabis (another term for marijuana) is still classified as a controlled substance by the federal government. Under federal law, it is prohibited to possess or use the drug. Individual states, on the other hand, have approved legislation enabling distribution and sale within their borders.

What is the purpose of medical marijuana? Is it effective?

Medical marijuana is sometimes used to treat illnesses and symptoms like those described below, according to the National Institutes of Health. It is still being studied to see if it is effective.

  • Nausea
  • Appetite loss.
  • Pain
  • Inflammation
  • Epileptic seizures
  • Symptoms of multiple sclerosis

Medical marijuana’s effects on other ailments and health issues are also being studied by researchers. Marijuana use can have certain negative side effects, such as memory loss, according to the National Library of Medicine.

Some cancer-treatment research using medical marijuana are promising. According to the National Institutes of Health, medical marijuana extracts have:

  • In some brain tumors, the proliferation of cancer cells has been slowed.
  • In certain cases, cancer cells were killed or shrunk.

Does Medicare Cover Medical Marijuana?

The short answer is that your medical marijuana will not be covered by Medicare. Medicare, on the other hand, is renowned for not paying alternative therapies or drugs. You can expect to pay for your cannabis out of pocket for the most part.


Why Doesn’t Medicare Cover Medical Marijuana?

Only medications that have been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration will be covered by Medicare.

Medical marijuana isn’t FDA-approved, and the federal government still considers it a controlled substance.

As a result, neither the cost of obtaining a medical marijuana card nor the cost of purchasing medicinal marijuana from a dispensary are covered by Medicare.

Even if you reside in a place where medicinal marijuana is allowed, this is true.

Certain cannabis drugs, such as Syndros and Epidiolex, may, nevertheless, be reimbursed by Medicare prescription plans because they have been approved by the FDA.

What is the difference between CBD and medical marijuana?

Several hundred active compounds are found in cannabis. Cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, generally known as THC, are the two most well-known.

The following are some of CBD’s potential advantages:

  • improved unwinding
  • pain alleviation
  • reduced anxiety

THC is the molecule that gives cannabis its intoxicating properties.

CBD has recently been separated from THC and is now available even in jurisdictions where medical marijuana is illegal. CBD and THC products are available for a number of health concerns in places where medicinal marijuana is authorized.

Individual states, like medical marijuana, have their own laws governing the allowable levels of CBD. When traveling with CBD, check your state’s legislation for specific details, and be aware of other state restrictions.

Four Cannabinoid Medications Are FDA-Approved

There are around 60 different types of cannabinoids in the marijuana plant. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are two cannabinoids that have been researched for medical purposes (CBD).

Although medical marijuana is not approved by the FDA, four cannabinoid medicines are.


The FDA has not approved any other cannabis, cannabis-derived, or CBD products on the market save the four listed here.

Cannabinoid Medications Approved by the FDA product.


Epidiolex is a medication that contains a refined form of CBD and is intended to treat seizures caused by Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndromes.


Marinol is a drug that has been licensed to treat nausea caused by cancer chemotherapy as well as weight loss in AIDS patients. It’s a cannabis-related synthetic chemical that comes in capsule form.


Syndros, like Marinol, is used to relieve nausea caused by cancer chemotherapy and weight loss in persons living with AIDS. Syndros is a liquid form of a synthetic cannabis-related chemical.


Cesamet contains nabilone, a synthetically created chemical structure that is similar to THC. It’s used to alleviate nausea caused by cancer chemotherapy. It’s accessible as a capsule.

How do you use medical marijuana?

Medical marijuana manufacturers and distributors have created a variety of marijuana-infused products thanks to improved processing equipment. The following are the most typical types of consumption

  • smoking
  • vaping
  • consuming (in foods or drinks made with marijuana)
  • splashing the underneath of the tongue
  • tinctures
  • topical applications, like oils and creams

If you’re not sure how to utilize medical marijuana or which form of consumption will work best for your condition, consult your doctor. They can provide you with materials that will assist you comprehend correct usage.

You may read: Differential diagnosis for asthma

Side Effects of Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana has been demonstrated in studies to help with nausea, muscle spasms, and discomfort, as well as promoting appetite. Medical marijuana, like recreational marijuana, does, however, have its drawbacks. Marijuana use can have cognitive negative effects, especially if you use it for a long time.

It may exacerbate pre-existing mental disorders in some people. Disorientation, elevated heart rate, dizziness, dry mouth, headaches, and, in rare cases, hallucinations are all side effects of marijuana. Because there are so many distinct strains of Cannabis sativa, determining the exact amount of THC in each one can be challenging, making it much more difficult to predict undesired side effects.

What are the costs?

In general, medical cannabis is not covered by Medicare. The FDA-approved epilepsy medicine Epidiolex, as well as the anorexia treatments Cesamet, Marinol, and Syndros, are the only exceptions.

Aside from when a person acquires a prescription for FDA-approved medications, there may be certain charges associated with medicinal cannabis.

The following items may be included in the cost, which varies by state:

  • Out-of-pocket charges associated with a medical visit, such as a trip to the doctor’s office.
  • The price of the medicine. Although a person may not be required to pay sales tax on a medical cannabis purchase made from a medically authorized retail business, they will almost always be responsible for the cost of the medication. The price will depend on the type and quantity of the item.
  • When getting the drug, there is a cost for using the medical cannabis card. Depending on the store’s policies, this may or may not be the case. A person on a tight budget may be able to get the prescription for free at some retailers.
  • The cost of the MMJ card, which must be renewed every year.

The FDA-approved cannabis-based drugs may be covered entirely or partially by Medicare prescription drug programs. Before filling a prescription, people should check their Medicare plan’s medicine list to see if the cost is covered.

State Medical Marijuana Laws

As of 2021, 38 states and the District of Columbia have established comprehensive medical marijuana programs that are open to the public.

Adults in fifteen states and the District of Columbia can now consume marijuana recreationally.


To buy marijuana in jurisdictions where only medical marijuana is permitted, you must first obtain a medical marijuana card.

The process for obtaining a medicinal marijuana card differs by state.

However, there are a few ground rules to follow.

A doctor must prescribe medical marijuana for a reason, just like any other prescribed medication. Pain, PTSD, and cancer are among the ailments that can be legally treated with cannabis in each state.

After that, you must ask your doctor if he or she is willing to issue you a medical marijuana card. You can also look online for medical professionals who are registered with your state’s cannabis program.

Some states require you to join up with the state-maintained registry of medical marijuana patients. In other states, this step is optional.

Finally, once you’ve acquired your medical marijuana card, you’ll need to find a dispensary in your area to buy the product.

Speak with your doctor if you believe medicinal marijuana could be a suitable therapy choice for you. He or she will be able to determine if medical marijuana therapy is appropriate for you.


Medicare won’t cover the cost of medical marijuana because it’s illegal and not approved by the FDA.  Cannabinoid-based drugs, on the other hand, may be covered by Medicare.

Cannabis is a controlled substance under federal law. Medical marijuana and related programs, on the other hand, are allowed in more than 30 states. Medicare does not cover the cost of medicinal marijuana, although it does cover some of the costs of cannabis-based or related drugs.

Even in places where cannabis is legal for recreational use, you must obtain a medical marijuana card before purchasing cannabis goods. You might be able to get discounts with a medicinal marijuana card.

If you think medicinal cannabis could benefit you with a medical condition, go to your doctor. Medical cannabis may be an alternative to relieve various ailments depending on the state where a person resides.

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