Medical-Marijuana Activists Up in Arms Over the Proposed Doubling of Fees

June 17th, 2011 by admin Leave a reply »

Several lawmakers this legislative session have alleged that the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program is being abused. They point to the number of registered patients—39,774 and counting—and have proposed more than 20 bills aimed at reining in the program.

But despite complaints about alleged abuse, the proposed budget for the Oregon Health Authority shows that some lawmakers also see the program as a cash machine for filling state coffers.

The proposed state health budget (PDF) would double the yearly fee for a medical-marijuana card from $100 to $200. Licensed growers for the first time would be required to pay a $200 fee. And proposed new rules would slash the number of low-income patients allowed to pay a reduced $20 fee.

The extra money would pay for emergency medical services ($1.8 million), a program for safe drinking water ($3 million), contraceptive care ($1.2 million) and school-based health centers ($500,000). The proposed health budget passed the Senate 19-11 on June 14 and is now in the House.

Medical-marijuana advocates say the proposed change would give Oregon the highest fees of any of the 15 states with medical marijuana.

Nevada’s fee is highest at $150, and Oregon’s $100 fee is second highest.

“To go to the sickest people and expect them to close the budget gap is cruel,” says Paul Stanford, a longtime Portland cannabis activist and head of a national chain of medical-marijuana clinics. “We’re going to fight it.”

The Advisory Committee on Medical Marijuana, a citizens’ group, has called an emergency

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