One in five Medicare recipients use medical marijuana and two-thirds say it should be covered by Medicare, a new survey reveals, reports HealthDay News.
Thirty-seven states and DC have legalized medicinal Cannabis. But Medicare, the federal health insurance program for older Americans, does not cover weed. Possession of marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
Pollsters conducted the survey of 1,250 Medicare recipients in April 2022. It found one in five use medical marijuana and 23% have used it in the past. In all, 21% said they currently use weed to treat one or more medical conditions.
Cannabis Used For Wide Variety Of Health Conditions
Current use for health reasons was highest among respondents who also used Cannabis recreationally (39%). In all, 28% of recreational users said they previously used medical marijuana.
Respondents use it to treat a variety of physical and mental health conditions, including 32% for anxiety and 31% for chronic pain.
Roughly one in four said they use the herb to treat depression, glaucoma, and symptoms associated with HIV/AIDS, including nausea, appetite loss and pain.
Support Strong For Medicare Coverage Of Marijuana
Among respondents, support was strong for Medicare coverage of medical marijuana.
Two-thirds of patients — 66% — “strongly agree” or “agree” medicinal Cannabis should be covered. But 34% said they “disagree” or “strongly disagree.”
Nearly six in 10 supporters of Medicare coverage said they do so because medical marijuana can be effective when other treatments fail.
Surprisingly, support for Medicare coverage was lower among current medical marijuana users (56%), compared with 63% of previous users and 71% of those who said they’ve never used it.
Why the reluctance among current users? Four in 10 (38%) said they fear Medicare coverage would increase the herb’s price.
Costs Vary Widely
Pollsters found that current users’ out-of-pocket costs were wide-ranging.
Half reported spending up to $200 per month; and 36%, between $201 and $500 per month. Fourteen percent reported spending more than $500 a month.
In all, 31% of users who oppose Medicare coverage of medical marijuana cited unknown long-term impacts and a lack of research into its uses and effectiveness. (Medical Cannabis is one of the most researched substances in history. And folks have used weed medicinally for more than 6,000 years.)