Medical marijuana costs vary greatly from state to state, as Brian Wieder found out when he moved from California to New York state in 2014. In an an interview with syracuse.com, the 65-year-old AIDS patient said he spent $400 a month for treatment, up from the $75 he spent in California.
Wieder said suffers from severe shooting pain in his feet, legs and other parts of the body. He also has bouts of nausea, and dizziness. He currently takes 19 prescription drugs as part of his treatments.
"The pain is like two buzz saws giving off flaming sparks all through my legs, feet, groin, back and my throat," Wieder told syracuse.com.
Wieder said when he uses medical marijuana to help him cope:
"I'm in a better place and I don't dwell as much on the pain," said Wieder about his marijuana use.
Medical marijuana patients like Wieder must pay for their own treatment because health insurance plans can't pay for drugs that aren't approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Marijuana is still a Schedule I drug and illegal under U.S. federal laws.
New York's medical marijuana program is more restrictive than the one in California. Under state law, dispensaries can't sell marijuana that can be smoked. They have to dispense the drug in oils and liquids that can be swallowed or vaporized.
These methods are significantly more expensive than Wieder's treatment method in California. There he was allowed to smoke the cannabis, at a cost $75 of a month for the marijuana itself.
He wants to see the costs come down, for himself and everyone else. "All of a sudden there is something that will make your quality of life better, but you can't really touch it," he said.
Here's a clip from the interview, where Wieder talks about the financial strain of conforming to New York's regulations on medical marijuana consumption.