By: Ellen Lenox Smith

It is tough enough to be able to afford medical marijuana because it is not reimbursed by insurance. And now, we add the horror of this pandemic, leaving so many financially compromised. However you obtain your medication, you should do what you can to protect yourself and your health.

Here are some suggestions to consider for still obtaining medical marijuana and keeping yourself safe.

  • Medical marijuana should be defined as essential in your state, just like any medication.
  • They should be offering delivery and/or curbside pickup to those unable to travel to prevent the need to enter the distribution centers.
  • Online ordering is offered in many states. This allows you to order online or over the phone to arrange for either the curbside pickup or delivery.
  • Check online to find out what is available to you in your area.
  • If you need to consult with a medical provider, many places allow you to skip face-to-face visits with medical providers for renewals or even new card applicants using telemedicine.
  • Although many centers do offer financial aid programs to those that qualify with SSI and SSDI, more help needs to be happening during this pandemic.
    • Here in Rhode Island, where home grows are allowed, along with being a caregiver for others, we instituted a donation program. Growers are temporarily donating so those in need continue getting their medication.
    • You can also consider offering to run a fundraiser to raise money to help support those that can’t afford to purchase during the loss of revenue during the pandemic. There are those who received a stimulus check but have not had a decrease from their finances that might be willing to remember those in more need and share a portion of their check. These donations are being converted to vouchers to be honored to obtain medication at the distribution centers. You would need to work directly with a center to get their approval to work with this program.
  • If you need to physically go into a dispensary, social distancing should be enforced.
  • Many dispensaries have even implemented special hours for the elderly and those that are at higher risk during the pandemic. Check to see if your local dispensary is among those that offer this service.

Many states are doing a good job trying to ensure that patients still have access to their medications and are continuing with the licensing process during this pandemic. If you have questions, be sure to contact your Department of Health and also the distribution centers where you purchase your medication. Remember, the last thing you should have to do is to stop your medical marijuana due to financial complications. You deserve to have continued access if this is helping you with your medical issues. Reach out and share your concerns and issues and see what assistance they can offer to help you. Feel free to be in touch if we can be any help with guiding you if your state is not making an effort to help patients in need during this horrific pandemic.

May life be kind to you.

Ellen Lenox Smith has emerged as a leading voice for patients living with pain. Featured in local and national press accounts, Ellen brings a reasoned and compassionate perspective to the need for safe patient access to effective therapies, especially medical cannabis. Currently, Ellen serves as Co-Director of Medical Cannabis Advocacy for U.S. Pain Foundation and is a member of its Board of Directors. She also serves on the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition as secretary, was appointed by the governor to the Adaptive Telephone Equipment Loan Program and is part of the Oversight Committee for the Compassion Centers in RI. She is active with the EDS RI support group. Prior to patient advocacy, Ellen was a longtime middle school social studies teacher. She has been married for 46 years and is the proud mother of four adult children and grandmother to five grandchildren. She also is the author of two books, an organic gardener, and was previously a master swimmer and high school swim teacher.