Although medical cannabis has been legalized in 33 states and the District of Columbia, it has not yet gained federal acceptance. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) still classifies it with a Schedule I designation, indicating that it has significant risks but no medical benefits. This discrepancy in legality between the state and federal levels has created numerous challenges for patients and physicians, as well as for businesses that must negotiate conflicting rules.
One of the most significant challenges that these conflicting rules create for patients is the lack of insurance coverage for medical cannabis. Payers are understandably reluctant to include benefits for a drug that is still a Schedule I substance at the federal level. Without health insurance coverage, patients must pay out of pocket for treatment that can cost hundreds of dollars per month.