State Backs Off Fee Hike for Marijuana ID Cards
The Department of Health Services on Thursday agreed to alter the scheduled fee increase for medical marijuana identification cards from $13 to $66 rather than $142 annually, according to Assembly member Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Goodyear, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/2).
The fee increase was scheduled to take effect Thursday, but the new rate instead will take effect April 1. Medi-Cal beneficiaries will pay $33 under the revised rates (Los Angeles Times, 3/2).
Leno said the "last-minute decision" by the state has saved the identification program from "certain demise" (San Francisco Chronicle, 3/2).
Proposition 215, a 1996 ballot initiative, permits California residents to use marijuana if recommended by a physician. A subsequent state law requires counties to issue identification cards to people who have a doctor's recommendation to use marijuana. The law does not include a deadline for counties to issue ID cards, and only 24 of the state's 58 counties are participating (California Healthline, 2/20).
Mike Bowman, a spokesperson for DHS, said the decision to reduce the fee increase was influenced by several counties saying they would institute local ID card systems, threatening funding for the state program (Simerman, Contra Costa Times, 3/2).
However, the Chronicle reports that the lower fee increase could persuade some counties to join the state program (San Francisco Chronicle, 3/2).