Authorities in the state of Oregon are in discussion about the restoration of discounts on medical marijuana fees for low income patients and those relying on Social Security. An advisory panel met yesterday to figure out the specifics and also work out the logistics of the increased fee schedule expected to take effect in October.

The Oregon state budget contains language approving increased medical marijuana administration fees in order to raise $6.4 million which would be channeled into funds for clean water and school health programs. Originally, the legislature wanted to double the basic fee for a state medical marijuana card, and axe most of the available discounts.

According to Bob Wolfe, a member of the Oregon Marijuana Policy Initiative, after medical marijuana activists were able to use phone calls and email to express their outrage to the state legislature, those in charge agreed to consider reducing the overall registration fee increase and putting the discounts for people currently on food stamps, the Oregon Health Plan and Social Security back in place. As well, the legislature agreed to consider reducing the fee charged to designated growers.

Wolfe said advocates like himself were able to participate in talks to “…change the form of increases to protect the most vulnerable patients.”

The current registration fees in Oregon are $100 a year, though low income patients (those on Medicaid, Social Security or on food stamps) only pay $20.

The new fees under consideration would be $180/year for regular patients, $80/year for those on food stamps and Medicaid, and $40 for those on Social Security.

In addition, it would coust $25 to replace a lost registration card, and $50 to change the caregiver, grower, or grow site attached to a patient’s registration, as well as a fee of $50 for growers who are not also patients.

Christine Stone, speaking on behalf of the Oregon Health Authority, said that the fee increases can be modified so long as the $6.4 million in the budget is met. She also said that the advisory panel considered some changes to their latest proposal, and that actual increases will be subject to public hearings before they go into force around the first of October.

Likely in anticipation of the coming fee increases, new registrations and renewals rose sharply in June. As of the first of July, Oregon had 49,222 registered medical marijuana patients, 25,634 non-patient caregivers, and another 4,581 applications still pending.

MMJ advocates have suggested that revenues could be increased if there were more staff available to process the outstanding applications.

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