Medical marijuana has been a talking point for many people when it comes to pain management and mental health issues. However, it is one of the most expensive prescriptions to get.
For many students at UCA, having access to medical marijuana has been a great help to their medical needs. The cost of the medicine is high though, and most insurance agencies won’t cover the cost.
UCA junior, Gwendolyn Daniels, said that if there were other options as effective for her chronic pain, she would take those instead. “My healthcare, in general, is really expensive, back injuries are hard to treat and this kind of treatment, along with everything, else is really expensive,” Daniels said.
Students that live on campus have an additional issue: medical marijuana is currently prohibited on campus, despite it being a medication.
Sydney Calvert, a junior at UCA, lives on campus and talked about how difficult it is to get relief from the medication while living on campus. “Even like, discrete, or like, non-smoking forms of marijuana ... you’re not allowed to have it,” Calvert said.
UCA’s medical marijuana policy is strict. The official UCA stance says that “marijuana use on the University of Central Arkansas’ premises or at university-sponsored events or activities remains prohibited.” It also states that any use of medical marijuana is prohibited in any ‘owned or leased spaces” on campus, which would include campus apartments.
“And they have anti-discrimination work policies,” Calvert said. This means that any student worker cannot be under the influence of medical marijuana while on the job, and that
“Employees in safety-sensitive positions remain subject to pre-employment, random and for-cause drug testing.”
These kinds of prohibitions on campus are what deterred Daniels from living on campus. She opted to get an apartment off-campus in order to take her medicine. She now pays out of pocket for her medicine and her apartment, when she would be living for free on-campus with her scholarship.
These are not small costs. Medical marijuana requires a certification that usually costs $50, and then for some, the cost of the medication can be anywhere from $75-150 a month due to insurance agencies not offering cost deductibles for medical marijuana.
Arkansas currently has a “privilege tax” on medical marijuana. “Because I am so privileged to have chronic pain,” Daniels said.
Prohibitions on medical marijuana use include student-athletes. “Students who participate in NCAA-sanctioned events will remain subject to NCAA rules and regulations, including exclusions from participation for failing a required drug test.”