Medical marijuana: $90 license fee too high for indigent patients & everyone else, advocate says
Back in August, medical marijuana advocates protested when Governor Bill Ritter proposed using $9 million in MMJ fees to help plug a budget hole. No doubt this topic will rise again at 9:30 a.m. this morning, when a board of health public hearing will address the question of lowering license fees from $90 to $10 for indigent patients. But Cannabis Therapy Institute's Laura Kriho would like to go further.
"I think it's more an issue of lowering the fees for everybody, and not having to have an indigent-patient standard," she maintains. "It should be $10 for everybody."
In her view, "It's important to lower the fees, so the state isn't tempted to steal all the extra money out of the registry. A clause was put in the constitution specifically to prevent the state from taking the money and putting it into the general fund."
According to her, the $90 license figure was chosen "at a time when they thought only a few thousand people would sign up for the registry" -- which turned out to be a low-ball figure if ever there was one. The MMJ registry patient total blew past 100,000 in July, and the numbers continue to grow. She adds that "the large surplus shows that clearly the state is charging too much."
In Kriho's view, the change should be made "by an emergency rule, because they like to use emergency rules" -- likely a reference to an attempted board of health regulation change regarding caregivers that was tossed by a judge last year. "And this actually is an emergency. When we have the governor's hand in the pot ready to yank more money out, and more money going into it every day, we clearly don't need to fees to be as high as they are."
The board of health will also hear comments about the difficulty of adding conditions to a list of those approved for medical marijuana treatment -- an issue that's gotten more attention following its rejection of petitions regarding Tourette's Syndrome and post-traumatic-stress disorder. Kriho would like some changes in this area, too, arguing that the board of health in general, and outgoing Colorado chief medical officer Ned Calonge in particular, have "been very hostile to the medical marijuana program from the beginning."
Dr. Ned Calonge.
Page down to read the Cannabis Therapy Institute release about today's advisory committee meeting.