Medical marijuana patients who are also senior citizens with low incomes in Pennsylvania will receive financial assistance for medical cannabis via a new pilot program. The state’s Department of Health recently launched a program offering $50 a month in financial assistance to help nearly 1,400 senior citizens afford the cost of medical marijuana.
“The payments are the first step toward establishing a third phase for the financial assistance program authorized to help low-income medical marijuana patients afford the drug,” reported Capitol Wire. “Because insurance companies don’t include medical marijuana in their prescription drug coverage, medical marijuana patients are left to pony up the full cost of medical marijuana when they visit the state’s dispensaries.”
The outlet further reported that the Keystone State doesn’t have enough resources to offer needed financial help to all of the low-income patients.
The start of the new pilot program comes as a third phase of the Medical Marijuana Assistance Program (MMAP) that was launched earlier this year, writes HighTimes.
Phase 1 focused on eliminating yearly card fees for eligible participants registered in the commonwealth’s financial hardship program, according to the PA Health Dept. Phase 2 removed all background check fees for eligible caregivers, while Phase 3 aims to distribute yet-to-be-established benefits per funding period for eligible patients.
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Prices for medical marijuana in the state have been an issue for a while now. Earlier this year, John Collins, former director of the Office of Medical Marijuana called attention to the issue.
“I’m clearly calling out today, secretary, a red flag that needs to be investigated,” Collins told Pennsylvania Health Secretary Keara Klinepeter, reported the Inquirer.
Recent Cannabis Updates In PA
In the meantime, support for adult-use cannabis legalization has grown. According to a September CBS News Poll, 66% of registered voters support the cannabis policy reform, while 34% oppose it.
Despite the support marijuana enjoys among PA voters, cannabis laws in the state remain harsh.
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A recent report from the Marijuana Policy Project revealed that Pennsylvania is one of 19 US states where marijuana possession is penalized with possible imprisonment and a criminal record.
In 2021, 12,439 adults and 1,057 juveniles were arrested for simple cannabis possession, data from Pennsylvania State Police showed. Even though the figures represent a 30% drop between 2020 and 2021, they remain high.
This article originally appeared on Benzinga and has been reposted with permission.