Medicare for all may not be just a Democratic talking point as the 2020 campaign kicks into high gear. It could also “dramatically” increase access to medical marijuana, according to Nicholas Vita, CEO of cannabis company Columbia Care.
“I think it would eliminate the financial subsidy for people to use products like opioids,” he told Akiko Fujita and Brian Sozzi on Yahoo Finance’s “The First Trade” on Monday.
He added that it could “actually open the door for them to use products that are potentially much less harmful and more efficacious like medical cannabis.”
A government report released in January shows that over 130 people in the United States die every day from an opioid overdose. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention puts the economic burden of the opioid epidemic at around $78.5 billion a year; which includes lost productivity, cost of health care, addiction treatment, and court costs.
Currently, Medicare typically covers health care for U.S. adults 65 and older. However, under the Medicare for All Act introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) health care would be guaranteed for all U.S. residents regardless of age.
With the future of Medicare for all up for debate, Vita is taking steps to help get medical marijuana in the hands of those who need it most. “Because of the way cannabis is handled, there’s no access to credit, which is the most common form of transactions for consumers. We thought that alleviating one of the most important bottlenecks, we can actually increase access in a significant way.”
This was the thinking that went behind the Columbia National Credit Program (CNC Card). It’s the nation’s first credit card for the cannabis industry, and it allows customers to charge orders in all of Columbia Care’s markets.
“Most banks won’t touch the industry because of issues. We found a way to provide transparency,” Vita stated. “For us it’s not only a temporary solution but a long-term solution that can eventually be folded in to a more traditional form of credit.”
Nick Monte is a producer on ‘The First Trade’