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Arizona Hoarding Money to Hinder Growth of Medical Marijuana Program

Arizona Medical Marijuana Card Fees

Sadly, Prop 205, Arizona’s recreational marijuana ballot initiative, was recently defeated. But, fortunately, Arizona has a medical marijuana program, which will be thriving soon if a new class-action lawsuit manages to get the state to decrease the hefty annual fees associated with program.

A recently filed class-action lawsuit in Arizona claims that the state is hoarding a $15 million surplus from the medical marijuana program. The lawsuit also accuses the Arizona Department of Health Services of charging unreasonable fees to obtain a medical marijuana card as well as failing to support the program by avoiding to put money from those fees back into the program.

Part of the complaint reads: “The state currently collects $75 – $200 per patient/caregiver, but the current estimated costs incurred by the state for patient and caregiver provisions of the program are believed to be less than approximately $15,” according to Courthouse News.

Demand for medical marijuana would increase if the state reduced the annual fee for medical marijuana cards, which in return would decrease the price for medical marijuana; but, ultimately, and most importantly, it would allow more people to be able to afford and therefore have access to medical marijuana, a safer alternative to prescription drugs.

The lawsuit is reasonably claiming that the high fees are in place to limit access to medical marijuana. Former Arizona Governor, Jan Brewer, is also named in the case as she signed the act into law. Brewer is listed as setting the patient/caregiver card prices “high enough to keep needy patients and caregivers from receiving legal access to the medical marijuana program.”

A Forbes study from 2015 showed that medical marijuana in Arizona is pricier than most other western states. An ounce of medical marijuana in Arizona averages $298. In California, it is estimated at $242/ounce and $265/ounce in Nevada.

The lawsuit states that, “The excess fund will only grow, as the state continues to compel the yearly excessive fees for patients and caregivers. A state regulatory fee is unconstitutional if it is not in reasonable proportion to the services rendered” and that, according to the law as it is written, money generated by medical marijuana cards must be spent on the medical marijuana program.