Growing concern over high cost of medical marijuana

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Suffering with chronic pain after some major surgeries, Jackie Hyer was excited for some relief from her new medical marijuana prescription, and she says it worked. What she didn’t anticipate was the price.

“It’s expensive this 30-cc bottle is 180 dollars,” said Hyer. “I could cry right now because it’s so depressing. I’ve missed out on so much because I feel it’s held my daughter back since she was born 19-years-ago because of pain and limited mobility.”

“Depending on the doctor, and how often they take it you’re talking anywhere from $3000 to $5000 a year of cash to be on this medicine,” said physician, Dr. Chad Domangue.

Patients looking to take medical marijuana have to get a recommendation from a doctor first, a recommendation they have to pay for out of pocket because insurance doesn't cover the doctor's visit or the cost of medical marijuana.

“It’s beyond frustrating I’m caught in a crossfire. There’s no right answer,” said Domangue.

Domangue says he's made around 50 medical marijuana recommendations to patients, all he says who have come back with success stories. However, he winds up having to put a number of those patients back on dangerous narcotics simply because of the cost.

“It’s just this irony of what's happened that they're being driven and covered to get dangerous medication when the healthier alternative need to pay cash for,” said Domangue.

At their new location on Tchoupitoulas Street, Ruston Henry with H&W drug store says as with any new technology, it’s going to be more expensive on the outset especially because there’s only one medical marijuana producer in Louisiana.

“There are certain startup costs its high but as time goes on and more products become available, I’m sure it will decrease in prices, but now the effectiveness of this medicine is not in question,” said Domangue.

Henry says since their opening, they've helped more than 600 patients. He hopes as the availability and awareness of the drug increases, supply and demand will drive down the price.

“When the word gets out this medicine is effective, destigmatize it, nothing smokable, edible, it’s a tincture you put on your tongue,” said Henry.

Hyer says as much as she wants to spend time with her family, she can't justify spending that much green on medical marijuana.

“I thought this would be my miracle and its great, but I just can't afford it,” said Hyer.

For patients to get refills of their medical marijuana, they do need to go to their physician every three months for a new recommendation.

Right now, medical marijuana in the state is only available in the liquid form.

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