Medical-marijuana patient fees will be dramatically lowered to $15 annually beginning early next year, the state board of health decided Wednesday.
In a 7-1 vote, the board lowered the $35 fee patients pay by 57 percent to $15.
The change is mainly due to the fact the registry’s state fund has made more than enough money to cover administrative costs, said Mark Salley, spokesman for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
In fact, there is an excess of $13 million.
“The board felt it was appropriate to make this change,” Salley said.
The $35 fee was slashed down from $90 in 2011. When the program started, after voter approval in 2000, the annual fee was $140.
Patients need a doctor’s recommendation to be legal medical-marijuana users in Colorado and do not need to apply to the registry.
However, the registry gives patients extra protection against prosecution, and a registry card is required to shop at a dispensary.
The registry is not supposed to make money, just cover administrative costs.
Numerous speakers during the public comment section of the meeting suggested the fee should be waved, but the $15 amount was deemed fair, Salley said.
The change will take effect in February.
There are nearly 113,000 valid medical-marijuana card holders in Colorado.
Medical marijuana businesses, the shops and the grow houses, also pay significant fees for permits.
During the meeting, there was some discussion what do with a portion of the $13 million extra, said Michael Elliott, executive director of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group.
One suggestion, supported by Medical Marijuana Industry Group, is to use $7 million of the estimated $13 million to research whether other conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and epilepsy should qualify, Elliott said.
Hard data could be used to show medical marijuana helps those afflictions, leading to new qualifying conditions for patient use, Elliott said.
“There is no good reason not to do this,” he said.
While there was some discussion, the topic was not an agenda item and no official action was taken, Salley said.
Live Oak, California has banned the cultivation and dispersion of medical marijuana via the Court system, for now. With the nearest functioning dispensary two hours away, patients like plaintiff James Maral are now waiting for redemption in the dry dust of lingering prohibition.
Maral is living with compartment syndrome, which is life threatening, as well as six damaged discs in his back. His mother Donneda Maral, for whom he is caretaker, has severe diverticulitis, Crohn’s disease, and requires frequent trips to the hospital. Not being able to grow their own medicine leaves them with few legal options to obtain and use medicinal marijuana.
In the Discussion section of James Maral et al. v. City of Live Oak, Judge Hoch found that the plaintiffs (Maral et al.) “have failed to make proper arguments,” and thus declined to address the matter, leaving the judgment affirmed and the City to recover costs on appeal. The City cited Inland Empire in their defence, stating, “there is no right — and certainly no constitutional right — to cultivate medical marijuana.” Attorney Joe Elford of San Francisco is drafting the petition to challenge. “This decision conflicts with the intent of the electorate and Legislature and should not be allowed to stand,” said Elford.
In a press release issued by CalNORML director Dale Gieringer, Gieringer stated that, “The right of patients to grow their own medicine is fundamental to Prop. 215’s stated purpose of ensuring that ‘seriously ill Californians have the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes.’ The city of Live Oak has no legitimate business prohibiting Mr. Maral from growing the medicine he needs at his own private residence.”
The current (non)judgment sets a dangerous precedent, but Elford is on the case, and a solid case it is. The People have already spoken through Prop. 215 and SB420. Though California’s medical marijuana market still has the flavor of the wild west, the white hats have proven time and again to be on the green side of the corral, and our rights slinging attorneys continue to fight the good fight to their victorious ends.
NUG Magazine interviews Erica Newell from the Stephen Marley Band. We catch up with her and talk to her about touring with the band and her work with the wailers. She has been working with the Marley family for years. Check out her music as she lets us know her plans for her own album. Reggae music at its finest! – Nugmag
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