Marijuana vs. Marinol: Estimated Average Patient Costs:
Methodology: Given that marijuana is not available by prescription, information regarding the dose and cost was taken from the average of sampling numerous physicians, cannabis clinics, and government officials. Those averages for marijuana are as follows:
A typical marijuana cigarette ("joint") contains 0.5 grams of marijuana.
A low dose of marijuana use is considered 1 joint (0.5 grams of marijuana) per day. A high dose is considered 3 joints per day (1.5 gram of marijuana). An average dose is therefore considered to be 1.0 grams (2 joints) per day.
Marijuana is typically purchased by patients in 1/8 ounce (3.5 grams) quantities at a usual purchase price of $60 per 1/8 ounce for marijuana that is considered moderate to high quality. The average per gram cost is therefore considered to be $17.14 per gram. Patients who grow their own marijuana, buy low-grade marijuana, or purchase in bulk will likely have a lower cost per gram.
Marinol is available by prescription so dosage and cost was readily available.
According to a pharmacist at Sav-On Drugs in Los Angeles, Marinol pills have an average retail price of $1.81 per milligram (2.5mg pill = $1.73/mg, 5mg pill = $2.05/mg, 10mg pill = $1.65/mg). Most patients use 5.0 mg pills.
According to Marinol’s manufacturer, Unimed Pharmaceuticals, AIDS patients are typically prescribed 5 milligrams per day (2.5mg at lunch and 2.5 at dinner) although the dosage is frequently increased to 7.5 milligrams per day (2.5mg at lunch and 5mg at dinner).
Unimed also stated that cancer chemotherapy patients are usually prescribed 15mg (5mg 3x per day) to 20mg (5mg 4x per day) per day.
The low dose for Marinol was therefore calculated to be 5mg per day, and the high dose was determined to be 20mg per day. The average dose is 12.5mg per day.
Given Marinol’s status as a Schedule III drug, most insurance companies cover the drug so the actual cost to patients is often $0 or $10-$20 co-payment per prescription.
The monthly section assumes 30 days per month, and the yearly section assumes 365 days per year.