Medical marijuana patients struggle with costs

Donnah Marvel’s life has been turned upside-down more than once.

After losing her son, Nickolas, 18, who was struck and killed by a car while walking home with friends along Route 9 in Linwood in 2004, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, underwent surgery and chemotherapy and had a double hip replacement due to disease in her bones.

Through it all, she’s developed anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain in her hips. Her participation in the state’s medical marijuana program is one of the few things she said has made a huge difference in her quality of life, but some months, she can barely afford it.

Gov. Phil Murphy and state Department of Health officials announced sweeping changes and upgrades to the program last month that would expand access to it. While advocates cheered for those improvements, a glaring issue remains: Those who may benefit the most may not be able to shoulder the costs.

TRENTON — Gov. Phil Murphy on Tuesday announced an expansion of the state’s medical marijuan…

“It’s extremely expensive, especially if you’re living on Social Security and disability benefits,” said Marvel, 58, of Somers Point. “Some months I can buy a quarter-ounce (of medical marijuana) and others two ounces. It all depends on my finances at the time.”

To address one part of the cost problem, Health Department officials lowered the program’s registration fee from $200 to $100. Seniors, veterans and others like Marvel who qualify for government assistance programs would pay $20.

That reduction helps, supporters said, but other costs associated with the program remain high.

The price of one ounce of medicinal

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