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Why is medical cannabis expensive?

One of the main road blocks in widespread medical cannabis use is its cost. For serious ailments like cancer, the cost of medical cannabis is a fraction of the cost of the entire treatment. However, for milder conditions like anxiety, chronic pain, arthritis, etc. the cost can be 5-6 times higher than conventional treatment.

The following reasons can be attributed to its high costs and if these are controlled, the retail price can be within the affordable range.

Expensive biomass:

India has legalized only the use of leaves for the extracting the oil. However, leaves are less potent and contain a lower percentage of cannabinoids and thus require a longer extraction process. If buds and resins are permitted for medical use, the cost of the raw material will be fraction of the current cost. This itself can reduce the MRP considerably.

Lack of insurance coverage/ government subsidies:

For many treatments, insurance and government subsidies help people afford them. For medical cannabis, neither insurance nor medical subsidies are available.

Lack of demand:

The awareness about medical cannabis use is lacking in both doctors and patients alike. Thus, the market demand for the medicine is low and the MRP is increased to cover their manufacturing costs.

Lack of interest within the pharmaceutical companies:

Medical cannabis is in its infancy, and to take it from here to its clinical acceptance requires money and experience. Bigger pharmaceutical companies have the resources and expertise required to bring this under standardization.

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