The state of Oregon, in order to help boost the budget, has decided to double the annual fee for registering for a medical marijuana card from $100 to $200 and tap the fund that money goes into in order to find the roughly $7 million it needs to fund other health programs.
As part of this legislative decision, state lawmakers have also chosen to reject several bills that would have made obtaining a medical marijuana card more difficult.
MMJ advocates in Oregon are understandably upset at the doubling of the fee, but they also believe the changes in legislation may help incorporate medical marijuana into Oregon’s mainstream economy, where it will become taxable (a potential downside), but also more easily accessible to those who need it.
These decisions come in spite of the U.S. attorney’s office warning to local police chiefs and sheriffs about a forthcoming crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries and other distribution facilities the federal government believes are operating outside the law. In spite of this, the state legislature has quietly killed several anti-MMJ bills, including one that would have made it almost impossible for doctors to write MMJ prescriptions at all.
In addition to approving the increase in the annual MMJ card fee, the state Ways and Means subcommittee also eliminated a $20 discount on the fee that is currently available to those patients who are currently receiving food stamps, and state medical coverage of the drug will also be eliminated, except for patients on social security.
The $7 million these changes are projected to raise will be allocated to other parts of the cash-poor Oregon Health Authority, including school health centers, emergency medical care and clean water programs.
If the measure is fully approved as part of the budget, the fee increases will go into effect on July 1st.