One of the biggest complaints among medical cannabis patients? The cost.
While cannabis is a potent medicine, even the most dire of patients cannot write their health expenses off on their taxes, nor will insurance cover the cost of the herb.
Further, finding insurance companies that will pay for the costs of cannabis-friendly doctors can also be a real challenge.
One can make the argument that medical cannabis can perhaps save patients from the more extreme costs of advanced healthcare in the long run, providing a tool that allows patients to avoid paying more to manage the side-effects and complications associated with the long-term use of many prescription drugs.
When used appropriately, cannabis can also act as a potent preventative supplement. The herb is rich in powerful antioxidants and is known to have neuroprotective properties.
While the plant alone is certainly not a cure-all, the long-term benefits may be useful for reducing health care costs in the future.
However, none of this changes the fact that cannabis can burn a serious hole in your pocketbook when it comes to upfront costs.
Fortunately, there is quite a bit you can do to make your medical cannabis more cost-effective.
While it isn’t always easy and requires some planning, behavior changes, and foresight, the extra effort makes the herb more pocketbook friendly.
Without further ado, here are 7 ways to save money on medical cannabis:
#1) Use the lowest effective dose
Perhaps the most important way to save money on medical cannabis is to find the correct dosage for you.
How does this save money?
Many people pay more money than they should because they are overconsuming cannabis. For example, it’s easy to get into the habit of dosing up only when you begin to feel poorly.
In an effort to combat feeling ill, a patient might eat a 100 milligram THC cannabis edible to manage acute symptoms.
After eating 100 milligrams of THC to manage acute symptoms, a patient may need as much or more cannabis to continue with the same level of relief moving forward.
Instead, it is more cost-effective to start with a lower dose of cannabis (say 5 to 10 milligrams) and slowly begin to work up until you find a level that effectively manages symptoms.
Similarly, if you smoke each time an acute symptom flares up without having a solid day-to-day routine mapped out, you may accidentally consume more cannabis than you actually need.
In this case, you would also be consuming the herb in a way that is more difficult to dose consistently.
While the first few days of low doses may not feel all that great, titrating up or down as needed allows the body to become accustomed to cannabis medicines and will allow you to reach a peak, stable routine.
Establishing a stable cannabis routine allows you to hover at the lowest effective dose for you without overspending.
This method also shifts the mindset toward cannabis from using the herb in a responsive way to manage symptoms to using it in a planned way to possibly prevent symptoms in the first place.
Plus, with cannabis, a lot of times more is less.
#2) Timing your doses
Along with finding the smallest, most effective dose, timing your doses is important.
For example, it may be beneficial to opt for higher doses of a sedative product or strain at night.
Why? Higher nighttime doses are more likely to promote sleep.
Getting more high-quality sleep can mean that you are less likely to have symptom flare-ups during the day. With fewer daytime flare-ups, you may be able to use less cannabis product to manage symptoms.
Similarly, taking smaller doses at about the same times each day (like any other medication) can help prevent breakthrough symptoms that occur because you’ve waited too long to dose up again.
The more severe the breakthrough symptom, the more likely you are to take a higher dose to manage your ailment.
Higher doses mean that you burn through your cannabis more quickly, leading you to spend more money on the herb.
Of course, if you maintain your regular dose and breakthrough symptoms still happen, then consuming some extra cannabis as needed and as your doctor recommends is still a worthy investment.
#3) Consume your medical cannabis with a fat source
The active components in cannabis are fat-soluble. This means that they dissolve in fat, not water.
Consuming your cannabis with a fat source can boost the herb’s effectiveness, especially when taking any sort of edible or oral concoction.
It is not recommended to eat cannabis edibles, capsules, or swallow tincture on an empty stomach. Contrary to popular belief, an empty stomach or a low-fat meal may actually allow your liver to process out many of the active cannabis compounds.
Eating something fatty like an avocado, canned fish, coconut milk, or a nut butter will not only give your body something to digest but may help the body process more of the medicinal cannabinoids and terpenes.
#4) Make cannabis more potent with lifestyle changes
If you only consume cannabis for your health and make no other lifestyle changes, you’ll likely burn through your herb and all of your cash fairly quickly.
An important way to save money on medical cannabis is by incorporating the plant into a larger plan to improve endocannabinoid health.
One of the key factors for endocannabinoid health? Movement.
Incorporating as much movement as is comfortable into your daily routine can increase the circulation of the body’s natural endocannabinoids, which are compounds similar to THC.
More endocannabinoids may mean less pain, improved mood, and perhaps fewer breakthrough symptoms overall.
Considering an anti-inflammatory diet plan and increasing your intake of fatty fish, nuts, and seeds may also be beneficial.
An anti-inflammatory diet plan can reduce systemic inflammation which then means that you can use less cannabis to manage day-to-day symptoms.
Further, while nuts and seeds may be difficult for some to digest, foods high in omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for the nervous system and endocannabinoid health.
In fact, endocannabinoids are derived from the essential fatty acids found most abundantly in fish, nuts, and seeds.
Research also suggests that omega-3 fatty acids may modulate the expression of cannabinoid receptors, which are the landing locations for many of the medicinal compounds in the plant.
Therefore, though research on the subject is still early, incorporating more healthy fats into the diet may be one way to improve endocannabinoid health and allow cannabis to work more effectively, thereby reducing the overall amount you consume and saving you money.
#5) Buy in bulk
While making some key behavior and lifestyle changes can help you keep track of your pocketbook, there are also several tips and tricks that can help you become a cost-savvy cannabis purchaser.
If able, buying in bulk is always recommended. For example, if you normally consume an eighth of dried flower in a week, it may be more cost effective to take advantage of a deal on an ounce of the herb and simply store the excess properly.
However, buying in bulk is only worthwhile if the overall cost per gram decreases with bulk buying.
Many dispensaries offer deals on larger amounts of cannabis, meanwhile picking up a few pre-rolls or a couple grams at a time can rack up a bill quite quickly.
#6) Use online tools to find great deals
While the world of online cannabis deals is still maturing, there are several websites that list deals from nearby dispensaries.
Before shopping, browsing through dispensary deals in your area may help you find better prices on brands and products that you enjoy.
Some of these sites include:
#7) Pick cost-effective products
An easy way to save money on medical cannabis is to simply pick more cost-effective products. For example, a large bottle of full extract tincture may cost up to $60.
However, if that tincture allows you to dose out a month’s supply of cannabis medicine, then it is more cost effective than spending $75 or 80 on a quarter of an ounce, which is more difficult to dose and may only provide two weeks of relief.
However, if you’re going to use that quarter of an ounce to infuse a bottle of olive oil that will last you two months, then the dried flower would be more cost-effective for you.
The bottom line…
Cannabis products certainly aren’t cheap, but some careful planning can help you use your medicine more effectively and stretch your dollar a little bit farther.
Additional money-saving options include growing at home, making your own infused oils, butters, tinctures, and simple extracts, and keeping track of “happy hours” or daily deals at nearby dispensaries.
A lucky few patients may qualify for programs like HeroGrown, which provides special deals, education, and potentially free cannabis oil to qualifying veterans, first responders, and their families.
Unfortunately, in the status quo, programs like these are few and far between. However, for those willing to put in the effort and cope with some upfront costs, there are ways to more effectively budget for this valuable herbal medicine.