BOSTON — The number of people treating their chronic pain, cancer symptoms or other Medical
conditions with Marijuana
has nearly quadrupled in a year, but a scarcity of licensed dispensaries and supply shortages are keeping many from getting their medicine, advocates say.
At least 24,196 patients are certified to buy Medical Marijuana
in Massachusetts, according to the Department of Public Health, up from nearly 7,846 a year ago.
In April, patients bought 9,603 ounces of marijuana from six licensed dispensaries, according to the department.
That’s a sizable increase from 3,821 ounces sold by four dispensaries in January — including one in Salem.
There is also a substantial rise in the number of Physicians Registered
to recommend marijuana treatment, as well as increases in the number of caregivers seeking permission to help patients.
Advocates say those data show just a fraction of the demand.
Dr. Uma Dhanabalan, of Uplifting Health and Wellness in Natick, is one of 149 physicians registered to recommend marijuana as treatment for a range of debilitating illnesses.
She sees about 600 patients and said some are still unable to get their medicine from one of the few dispensaries that have opened so far, either because of a lack of supply or a lengthy distance from the facilities.
"Just because we have these dispensaries doesn't mean patients are able to get to them," she said.
Some patients struggle to pay for the treatments, which average $300 per ounce, since insurance companies don't cover it.
"There are so many problems with the way this is handled," she said. "We're aliening people seeking treatment."
Patients must be recommended by physicians and have a medical marijuana license, vetted by health officials, before they're even allowed inside a dispensary to get a prescription filled. The state also limits how much marijuana a patient can receive to 10 ounces over a 60-day period.
Advocates said a lengthy approval process for new dispensaries is keeping patients from getting their medicine.
Read the Entire Salem News Article here