What Does Medical Marijuana Actually Cover?

When people hear that 24 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, they think it’s easy to access it in those states to treat their ailments. However, that’s rarely the case.

Licensing laws and medical marijuana registration regulations for patients often make it challenging to access it—even for approved medical conditions. Making matters worse is the fact that laws vary from state-to-state, and what’s covered in one state might not be covered in another.

Of course, marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, and until that changes, the disparity between state laws will continue. As Kenneth E. Leonard, Director and Senior Research Scientist at the Research Institute of Addictions at the University of Buffalo, State University of New York, explained in a recent article for The Conversation, “What counts as medical marijuana varies from state to state,” and states all say medical marijuana can treat a different collection of conditions.

A Lot of Conditions

States that have legalized medical marijuana cover anywhere from seven to 35 conditions. Nearly one-third of the states where medical marijuana is legal cover 10 or fewer conditions each while Illinois covers far more than any other state with 35 on its list. On average, most states cover nine to 15 conditions.

Among the 56 conditions covered across the country are:

  1. Cachexia
  2. Cancer
  3. HIV/AIDs
  4. MS
  5. Chronic/Severe/Intractable Pain
  6. Epilepsy/Seizures
  7. Glaucoma
  8. Muscle Spasticity
  9. Nausea
  10. Chron’s Disease
  11. ALS
  12. Hepatitus C
  13. PTSD
  14. Alzheimer’s
  15. Parkinson’s
  16. Anorexia
  17. Spinal Cord Injury/Disease
  18. Neuropathy
  19. Terminal Illness
  20. Arthritis
  21. Muscular Dystrophy
  22. Nail Patella
  23. Traumatic Brain Injury
  24. Huntington’s Disease
  25. IBS
  26. Lupus
  27. Severe Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis
  28. Tourette Syndrome
  29. Ulcerative Colitis
  30. Arnold-Chiari Malformation and Syringomelia
  31. Autism
  32. Causalgia
  33. Cervical Dystonia
  34. Cervical Dystonia 2
  35. Chemotherapy/Radiation
  36. Chronic Pancreatitis
  37. Chronic Renal Failure
  38. Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Type 2
  39. Decompensated Cirrhosis
  40. Dystonia
  41. Fibrous Dysplasia
  42. Hydrocephalus
  43. Interstitial Cystitis
  44. Migraine
  45. Myasthenia Gravis
  46. Myoclonus
  47. Neurofibromatosis
  48. Post Laminectomy Syndrome
  49. Post-concussion Syndrome
  50. Residual Limb Pain
  51. Severe Fibromyalgia
  52. Sickle Cell Disease
  53. Sjogren’s Syndrome
  54. Spinocerebellar Ataxia (SCA)
  55. Use of AZT or Protease Inhibitors
  56. Anything a doctor think would be helped by marijuana

Not A Lot of Coverage

Despite the fact that so many conditions are covered, the number of registered medical marijuana patients in each state where it’s legal is very small. That means a lot of people suffering from covered conditions are not yet being certified to obtain medical marijuana. In other words, the underserved market is very large.

This is true even in states where the medical marijuana market is more mature, like Colorado. Despite having the highest patient penetration rate of all the states, only 1.98% of Colorado’s population are registered as medical marijuana patients.

Currently, the consumer market for medical marijuana is limited by two things: conditions covered and the ability of patients’ to actually get certified to access medical marijuana. The former is controlled entirely by lawmakers while the latter is controlled by lawmakers and doctors who need to recommend medical marijuana for their patients.

Perhaps even more interesting is the fact that the vast majority of medical marijuana patients across the country are certified to receive the drug to treat chronic pain. Would you be surprised to know that four conditions dominate medical marijuana certifications in this country?

Cannabiz Media is developing a state-by-state report about the value of marijuana licenses in the U.S, and conditions, particularly the top four, play an important role in the research.  Subscribe to the Cannabiz Media newsletter so you don’t miss the announcement when the report is available with all of the details.

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