MEDICAL MARIJUANA: Oregon Users Face $150 Fee
Medical marijuana users will be required to pay the state a $150 fee to receive registration cards that become available this week -- a cost many advocates say is prohibitive. But Dr. Grant Higginson, the Oregon health officer who approved the fee, said the move is necessary because the voter initiative that legalized medical pot last fall left the department with a significant, unbudgeted expense. He said, "I'm disappointed we have to charge this much. The intent of the act was to make this more accessible and having a fee this high, I think, is going against the intent, but we can't do this for free." The law's backers had projected between 500 and 600 participants in the pot program, though only about 100 have come forward so far. The health department said it needs "about $100,000 to set up a registration program." Dr. Richard Bayer, chief petitioner for the law, said it is highly unlikely that the Legislature would allocate funds for the program. He said, "I think it's pretty clear that asking the taxpayers to bear the burden of Oregon's medical marijuana act might have created political problems. ... We felt the law would be more palatable if everyone paid their own way" (AP/Portland Oregonian, 4/30).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.