Medical pot users discuss recreational legalization

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James Bean demonstrates CBD vape pen

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Recreational marijuana will be legal starting in January, so what does that mean for people who use medical marijuana?

It’s already legal, but sometimes difficult to get. But there are still a lot of questions surrounding just how easy. What’s important to remember is that medical marijuana, while legal, is extremely regulated. It’s also very expensive.

“I get 100% relief of my back,” said James Bean when describing medical marijuana’s impact on his chronic. Bean uses it to treat pain in his back.

That relief is what medical marijuana users like Bean say is hard to beat, which is why he’s slowly weaning himself off of opiates and onto medical marijuana. Healthcare experts hope legalized marijuana will help medical pot’s prices come down.

“There are a lot of people who could benefit from medical cannabis now, but have not been able to get their physicians to sign off on the certification form or they can’t afford to apply for the card,” said Champaign County Healthcare Consumers Executive Director Claudia Lennhoff.

That card alone can cost users up to $100 out of pocket.

“Hopefully as there are more customers purchasing these products, hopefully the prices will come down,” said Lennhoff.

Some questions still surround what exactly will happen come January 1st. Healthcare experts warn users there are difference between what’s in medical marijuana versus recreational. It all comes down to the level of THC: the chemical that gets you high.

“A lot of times when people are on pain management programs, they’re not allowed to have THC in their systems,” said Lennhoff.

There are many unknowns when it comes to the future of how people use and perceive medical and recreational marijuana, but many are optimistic this will open doors for people who may have been hesitant or unable to use it.

“Our medical cannibus program in Illinois has been so tightly constrained over the last couple years because it was very limited as to who could qualify, who could have access,” said Lennhoff.

Prescription opiates are covered by insurance. For about a month’s use, any people pay about $5 out of pocket. It’s much different with medical marijuana. Out of pocket might cost $75 for only about five days of use. That’s why medical experts hope that more people using recreational marijuana will help the demand go up, and the prices go down.

One important thing for veterans who struggle with PTSD. They can use their military service records to get medical marijuana. That’s instead of having their VA doctors sign off on it, which they can’t do because medical cannabis is still federally illegal.

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