Is Medical Marijuana Covered by Medicare?
by: Brenda Lyle
The short answer is no. Although medical marijuana is legal in Florida, it is still illegal according to the Federal Government and has not been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration. Your primary care doctor likely cannot prescribe it and the costs will NOT be covered by your Medicare prescription drug coverage.
Cannabis has been used medicinally since ancient times. In 2016, Florida voters approved the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative (Amendment 2). Shortly after, the state Department of Health established the Office of Medical Marijuana to regulate its prescribing and dispensing. Medical marijuana is authorized for patients diagnosed with ALS, Cancer, Crohn’s Disease, Epilepsy, Glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, MS, Parkinson’s, PTSD, Chronic Nonmalignant Pain and terminal conditions (< two years).
Medical marijuana is highly regulated. Qualified physicians listed with Florida’s Medical Marijuana Use Registry complete special training to prescribe it. Only these physicians can determine a patient’s eligibility to receive a Medical Marijuana Use Registry Identification Card. Dispensaries require the card, along with a prescription from the qualified physician.
The prescription controls the type, quantity and frequency of the medical marijuana. As with any drug, patients should work closely with their doctor to achieve optimum results. Patients who require assistance with administration may register a caregiver –who must also get a Registry ID card.
The flower bud trichomes of female cannabis plants hold the medicinal power, producing a resin with cannabinoids. Currently, there are 517 dispensaries in Florida, with names like Surterra, Curaleaf and Trulieve. These Florida dispensaries sell medical marijuana in all its legal forms, including flower buds, vapes, oils, tinctures, edibles and drops.
While Medicare won’t cover medical marijuana under their part “D” prescription drug coverage, it will cover some FDA approved, cannabinoid-based drugs (check with your part D provider to see what drugs they cover). To learn more about medical marijuana, RSVP online for the April 14 event at One Senior Place in Viera, or call 321-751-6771.
One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to AskOSP@OneSeniorPlace.com, call 321-751-6771 or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging. Brenda Lyle is a Certified Care Manager and Certified Dementia Practitioner with One Senior Place, Greater Orlando.