By: Richard Saffle, Mountaineer News Contributor Posted: March 15, 2020 | 04:59AM EST
As the 2020 Legislative Session ends in West Virginia, many people are unhappy with the current state of the medical cannabis program. Now three years away from passage, the program is still being pieced together, currently without a starting date. Much has been said & a little legislation has been passed regarding growers, dispensers, processors, and, of course, all the money to be made. But one group has remained largely overlooked: the patients. It’s my fear that many patients will be priced out of their medicine once the program is implemented.
For example, cancer is a treatable illness under the Medical Cannabis Act in West Virginia. While dosage amounts vary, a cancer patient could require 20-80 mgs of THC a day or more, according to a Minnesota Office of Medical Cannabis Dosages and Compositions report in 2018. A single 300ml bottle of tincture in Ohio or Pennsylvania (who have similar medical cannabis programs) runs anywhere from $50-$120 or more, depending on size and strength. Depending on dosage, this is enough medicine for roughly one-four days.
West Virginia’s population is roughly 1,792,000 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Roughly 800,000 of those people are on Medicaid and/or Medicare, according to the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy. Our yearly average income is roughly $45,000. Does this sound like a populace ready to pay boutique cannabis prices?
An experienced grower under the best conditions could potentially produce up to a quarter pound of flower from a single plant grown indoors. While most West Virginians aren’t “experienced growers,” let’s continue with those numbers for this example. It takes roughly ½-1 ½ ounces of flower to create roughly 300ml of tincture, depending on potency. This means that a caregiver growing three plants could supplant a patient with enough flower to make up to roughly nine bottles of tincture, depending on plant yield and desired tincture potency. This would hardly put dispensaries out of business, and would help patients maintain a sustainable supply of medicine.
Home grown cannabis will promote better patient access to medicine in places where dispensaries are difficult to reach and to people who are priced out of the program. If you support home grow provisions for medical cannabis patients and a timely start to the program, you can help. Let Jason Frame at the Office of Medical Cannabis know that you support home grow as an alternative supply of medicine for medical cannabis patients, and that you would like to know when the medical cannabis program will begin. To contact the Office of Medical Cannabis, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 304-356-5090.