Since most insurance providers do not cover medical marijuana, the average patient is often faced with the burden of handling this expense out-of-pocket, which is not cheap. Depending on the condition and the severity of the symptoms, medical marijuana can cost a patient in upwards of $1,000 per month, according to a recent article in the Associated Press.

Despite the fact that 21 states have passed laws approving marijuana for medicinal use, insurance companies remain skeptical about including it as a qualified treatment because weed, medicinal or not, is still considered illegal in the eyes of the federal government. In fact, there is very little chance that any of the major insurance companies will consider adding medicinal herb to their coverage until it has received approval for its safety and effectiveness from the Food and Drug Administration -- not something that will happen anytime in the near future.

In the meantime, the nation’s estimated one-million medical marijuana users are challenged with finding ways to cover the cost of treatment on their own. And with many patients living on fixed incomes, once essentials like housing and food are paid, there are typically not many discretionary dollars available to spend on medicine.

Experts say that the insurance world has not yet seen any evidence to convince them that marijuana is as safe or effective as the treatments already approved by the FDA. This, unfortunately, has mostly to do with a lack of approved cannabis research in the United States. However, until the government decides to remove marijuana from its Schedule I classification, regarding it as having “no acceptable medical use,” the ability to study the positive effects of this medicine will likely continue to be repressed and passed over.

In medical marijuana states, patients can purchase medicine from a licensed dispensary or cultivate a specified amount on their own, which can be considerably cheaper in the long run. Yet, home growing is not a feasible money saving alternative for some because proper skills and time are essential for harvesting an effective crop.

There is speculation that even if marijuana was to receive FDA approval, most insurance companies would continue to steer away from including it as a viable treatment option because most employers will likely want to avoid the added expense.

Mike Adams writes for stoners and smut enthusiasts in HIGH TIMES, Playboy’s The Smoking Jacket and Hustler Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @adamssoup and on Facebook/mikeadams73.