Brenda Lyle – Special to FLORIDA TODAY
Q: If my doctor suggests medical marijuana will Medicare cover the cost?
A: The short answer is: no.
Cannabis, although legal in Florida as medical marijuana, is still illegal according to the Federal Government and has not been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration.
It is likely your current primary care doctor cannot prescribe it to you and the costs will NOT be covered by your Medicare prescription drug coverage.
Cannabis has been used medicinally by some cultures since ancient times.
In Florida, voters approved the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative (Amendment 2) in 2016.
After subsequent passage by the Senate, the Florida Department of Health established the Office of Medical Marijuana to regulate its prescribing and dispensing.
The Amendment authorized the use of medical marijuana for patients diagnosed with ALS, Cancer, Crohn’s Disease, Epilepsy, Glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, MS, Parkinson’s disease, PTSD, Chronic Nonmalignant Pain and terminal conditions with less than two years to live.
Initially allowed in limited form, medical marijuana became legal to smoke in 2019.
Prescribing and dispensing of medical marijuana is highly regulated.
Qualified physicians complete special training in order to prescribe it and must be listed with Florida’s Medical Marijuana Use Registry.
Only these physicians can determine a patient’s eligibility to receive a Medical Marijuana Use Registry Identification Card.
This ID card is required by the dispensary along with a prescription from the qualified physician.
The flower bud trichomes of female cannabis plants hold the medicinal power, producing a resin that contains healing cannabinoids.
The physician prescription controls the type, quantity and frequency of the medical marijuana for the desired outcome.
As with any drug, it is important for patients to work closely with their doctor to achieve optimum results with minimal side effects.
Currently, there are 52 dispensaries in the Central Florida area with names like Surterra, Curaleaf and Trulieve. These dispensaries sell medical marijuana in all its legal forms in Florida, including flower buds, vapes, oils, tinctures, edibles and even drops.
Patients may change the form of medical marijuana they receive, consistent with their prescription.
Tincture? Edible? Dispensary assistants are trained to help patients with these decisions.
Patients who require assistance with administration may register a caregiver — who must also get a Registry ID card.
While Medicare won’t cover medical marijuana under their part “D” prescription drug coverage, it will cover some FDA approved, cannabinoid-based drugs (check with your part D provider to see what drugs they cover).
To get more information about medical marijuana, stop in to One Senior Place in Viera or Altamonte Springs or call 321-751-6771.
One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. To submit a question, send an email to askOSP@OneSeniorPlace.com or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging at OneSeniorPlace.com.
Brenda Lyle is a Certified Care Manager for One Senior Place, Greater Orlando.