The Drug Enforcement Administration still classifies cannabis as Schedule I, although its being sold in various forms, concentrations, and strength ratios all over the country. Each state has its own rules, and this discrepancy in legality between the state and federal levels has created undulating challenges for patients and providers, as well as for the dispensaries that must negotiate the constantly changing rules.

One of the most significant challenges that these conflicting rules creates for medical cannabis patients is the complete lack of insurance coverage. Payers are reluctant to include reimbursement or benefits for a Schedule I drug, and without health insurance coverage, patients must pay out of pocket for treatment that can cost hundreds of dollars per month.

However, there is a growing body of scientific evidence that medical cannabis is indeed therapeutic and beneficial.  This evidence-based data is not as well developed as it could be, and there are still large gaps to be filled.

Therefore, we need to think carefully about how to ensure that patients have appropriate access to knowledge of medical cannabis uses for circumstances for which it may be helpful. A key element to educating providers and patients, as well as creating access, is insurance coverage.

Payers are uniquely well positioned to promote the safe and rational use of medical cannabis by aligning coverage with the evidence base supporting its use. Insurers can employ coverage decisions to encourage those uses that are evidence-informed and to discourage those that are not.

This guidance will be increasingly important as more high-quality studies are conducted of cannabis’s risks and potential benefits, and insurers are in a unique position to use coverage decisions to guide more efficacious use.

When insurers offer medical cannabis coverage, they make medical cannabis use more visible to health care providers. Although patients generally need a recommendation to obtain medical cannabis, they often obtain one from a medical cannabis clinic without the knowledge of their primary care provider.  Insurance reimbursement creates an important paper trail and entry into an EHR.

Most importantly, a closed loop of information surrounding efficacy and use can be created by a tech bridge between the patient and the insurer. Patients seeking insurance coverage for medical cannabis can help facilitate a unique source of crowdsourced data regarding medical cannabis’s risks and benefits.  Innovative tech can facilitate medication coverage when it is linked to patient self-reporting on a clinical leaning platform. Insurers could encourage reporting in a way that allows patients to learn from the experiences of others, as well as serve as a precursor to pre-authorization.

We believe that AURA is well positioned to create this valuable observational database to advance medical cannabis research and can improve patient care, as well as lessen the financial burden of healthcare in this country.

Find out how AURA works by downloading it today in the Play Store. The app will also be available in the iOS store at the beginning of Q4-20.


Aurelius Data, Inc is a patient use and perception focused big data company. We deliver insights from analyzing the intersection of science, user perception, product use, chemical analysis, and the users’ reported medical condition and symptom resolution. Our mission is to put the patient first, by increasing confidence and understanding, drive product development, boost customer retention, reveal cutting edge IP discoveries, and provide immediate, tangible value to every user.

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