For the past several months, HIGH TIMES has been providing extensive coverage on GW Pharmaceuticals’ popular cannabis-based drug called Sativex, which in addition to being recognized for years in some countries as a treatment option for multiple sclerosis, it is also the first cannabis-based drug to ever be clinically tested as a combatant against brain cancer.

Cannabis purists often take issue with this highly publicized drug, as many have concerns over Big Pharma getting their greedy hands in anything associated with marijuana. Yet, for those seriously ill patients living in countries where medical marijuana is not available -- not legal -- Sativex has become salvation’s wings for some of them; unfortunately, mostly the rich.

A disturbing report released this week by Leaf Science indicates that while Sativex has been approved for use in New Zealand, where medical marijuana is currently banned, very few patients are actually able to get prescriptions filled because of the astronomical price tag associated with the drug -- about $20,200 per year.

What’s more is Sativex patients are required to cover all of the costs, because the drug is not currently supported by Pharmac, the New Zealand Crown Agency responsible for determining which medications are used in community and public hospitals, according to the agency’s website.

Sadly, while a number of patients report Sativex works for them, most admit to being reduced to scouring the streets for cheaper alternatives for which to self medicate. 

“They don’t really want people to do the right thing. They don’t really want people to have safe medicine,’ said Sativex approved patient Billy McKee, who uses marijuana to relive chronic pain since having his leg amputated in a car accident 30 years ago.

Here in the United States, Satixex is on the verge of receiving approval by the FDA. Earlier this month, reports speculated that GW Pharmaceutics was in its final stages of clinical trials, which could put the drug on the American market in the not so distant future -- but at what cost?

In the end, the real question is how much more blood does Uncle Sam feel obligated to squeeze from jugulars of the sick before giving them the legal right to choose between the high costs associated with Big Pharma and smoking marijuana?

Mike Adams writes for stoners and smut enthusiasts in High Times, Playboy’s The Smoking Jacket and Hustler Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @adamssoup and on Facebook/mikeadams73.