Pot plant Although a product such as CBD may be marketed and sold legally, the FDA still has a significant interest in making sure that it is done so in accordance with its set guidelines. (Photo: Bloomberg)

One of the hottest topics in health care benefits today is the use of medical marijuana products and how payers will define the parameters of how when such products are covered moving forward, as the law continues to evolve on the state and federal level. With marijuana classified as a Schedule I drug at the federal level (alongside unlikely neighbors such as heroin and peyote) and now completely legal in numerous states even for recreational use, the prospect of instituting any type of coverage for cannabis products is risky to begin with.

However, we’ve still seen some payers communicate an interest in doing so, recognizing that from a cost containment perspective, medical marijuana may be a much better choice than the high cost specialty drugs it might be replacing in certain situations. Now, some changes at the federal level have cleared the way for covering certain types of marijuana-derivatives, without the risks associated with reimbursement for a product the use of which is criminal under federal law.

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