Top 5 Reasons Patients Are Reluctant to Use Medical Cannabis


With as much attention as medical cannabis has gotten over the last five or six years, you might think that patients would be bending over backwards to get it. Yet this is not the case. In many states, Utah included, there are people who legitimately qualify for medical cannabis use but never obtain their cards or visit a cannabis pharmacy.

Some patients are quite reluctant to use medical cannabis despite emerging evidence of its efficacy. According to the folks behind Payson, UT’s Pure Utah, the top five reasons are as follows:

1. Questions Over Legal Status

At the top of the list is the persistent question about medical cannabis’ legal status. It is true that cannabis remains on the federal government’s Schedule I list of controlled substances. It is also true that thirty-seven states have approved legal cannabis programs despite federal law. So where do patients stand?

On the one hand, people are breaking federal law by purchasing, possessing, and using cannabis products with more than 0.3% THC by volume. On the other hand, their state laws allow medical cannabis. Here is the bottom line: Washington has chosen not to enforce the law. They have chosen to look the other way and allow states to deal with cannabis as they see fit.

2. Moral and Ethical Concerns

There are patients who refuse to use medical cannabis because they have legitimate moral and ethical concerns. It is quite en vogue to criticize such patients, but the criticisms are unwarranted. Every person has a moral and ethical code by which they live. Your code is no one else’s business, and vice-versa. People with a moral or ethical objection to medical cannabis are completely justified in refusing it.

3. Concerns About Getting High

Cannabis has long been associated with getting high. Indeed, that was the plant’s main purpose in the U.S. prior to legalization for medical purposes. As such, there are plenty of patients who do not realize that it is possible to use cannabis without getting intoxicated.

THC is the cannabinoid that causes the cannabis high. But guess what? It is possible to purchase medical cannabis products with no THC. More importantly, not every condition qualifying for medical cannabis is best treated with THC. Some are better treated with CBD.

4. Concerns About Cost

This next reason is a big one in most states with legal cannabis programs: concerns about cost. No doubt that medical cannabis is expensive in Utah. Why? There are a couple of reasons. First, supply has yet to keep up with demand. Second, taxes and licensing fees add to the retail price consumers pay down at the pharmacy. And because health insurance does not cover prescription cannabis, patients are left to pay out of pocket.

Along those same lines, medical cannabis remains largely a cash and carry business. In many states, that limits payment options and the potential for home delivery. Patients in rural areas with no access to pharmacies find themselves living without.

5. Questions About Qualifying

Finally, those states with active medical cannabis programs tend to maintain lists of qualifying conditions. If a patient’s condition is not explicitly mentioned on their state’s list, they may wonder if they truly qualify. What so many patients don’t know is that the states do offer some latitude. Most give doctors an opportunity to justify how and why medical cannabis is the best treatment for a condition not included on the official state list.

Needless to say, there are patients who do not use medical cannabis even though they could benefit from it. They have their reasons.

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