Social Security Beneficiaries Fear They Could Lose Benefits Due to Medical Marijuana

A recent article from THV 11 news involved some growing fears among those in Arkansas who receive Social Security benefits and wish to apply for medical marijuana cards.  This is a novel issue there.  Even though some states, like California, have had medical marijuana programs since 1996 or shortly thereafter, these residents are living in one of the latest states to issue medical marijuana cards.

medical marijuana The fear is that if they obtain a medical marijuana card, they will be on a list that the federal government can use to terminate their Social Security benefits. One patient interviewed for this story suffers from chronic pain.  She has pain in her neck that radiates to her head, where it causes very severe migraines. She also has a painful medical condition known as peripheral neuropathy.  This condition causes her arms and legs to constantly feel like they are burning.She has had many surgical procedures and multiple pain medications to treat her conditions, but they do not work all that well.  She has now found a new pain control specialist that is recommending she try medical marijuana instead of taking all of those powerful painkillers.  She wants to try it, but she fears that if she gets a medical marijuana card, she will lose her federal benefits.  She is not alone with having these concerns, as there are many others in the same or similar situation.

As our Orange County medical marijuana attorneys can explain, and as discussed in this article, there is nothing in the Social Security Act that prevents a person with a medical marijuana card or recommendation letter from obtaining Social Security disability benefits. This statement has been echoed by the Social Security Administration (SSA), which is the federal agency that runs the Social Security disability programs. There is, of course, a caveat mentioned by SSA, that if a person were arrested for the sale or possession of marijuana, and they were confined to any type of institution for a period of 30 consecutive days, they would be able to terminate disability benefits.

In other words, as many people have been doing in our area for years, there should be no problem with being a medical marijuana patient and obtaining disability benefits.  This a very common situation where people are obtaining medical marijuana for chronic medical conditions that also allow them to qualify for disability benefits. However, the fears are not irrational.  The current White House administration has taken a different position than was taken during the presidential election campaign, and the new attorney general has said he intends to do whatever is in his power to crack down on medical marijuana in states where it is legal.  He has even gone so far as to say that Congress’s express mandate that no funds be used by the U.S. Department of Justice, including the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), to stop medical marijuana in states where it is legal do not stop him from doing so.  He has given no justification as to this position, and at least for the time being, it does not appear that he intends needs to do so.

The Los Angeles Cannabis Law Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

Additional Resources:

Patients fear medical marijuana card could cost them their social security benefits | 11 Listens, July 4, 2017, By Denise Middleton, THV11

More Blog Entries:

The Uncertain Future of Recreational Marijuana, March 29, 2017, by Cannabis Law Group