Access to medical cannabis: a new health care disparity

The vast majority of Americans — nearly 95% of us — support the use of medical cannabis. Thirty-three states plus the District of Columbia have legalized it, and that number is likely to rise.

But like all swiftly embraced changes in public health, there can be unintended consequences of legalizing cannabis for medical uses. My colleagues and I are seeing this one: the rise of a new health care disparity, because it is harder for poor people to access medical cannabis than it is for wealthier people.

Since 1996, I have worked as a primary care physician in the Bronx, N.Y., home to several of the county’s poorest congressional districts. Two years ago, we started a medical cannabis practice in one of our busiest primary care practices to better serve people with chronic pain — one of the

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