Oregon Medical Marijuana Program Could See Fee Increases For Growers

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(image via Oregon Herald)

I wrote an article earlier today that touched on a period of time back when I grew marijuana. It was the mid-late 2000's, when the rules surrounding medical marijuana were different than they are today. Back then I was a patient, and I grew for my cousin and two of my friends. They designated me as their grower, we designated my house as the official grow site for all four of us, and we were each responsible for our individual patient fees to the state and to our doctors.

It was a much simpler time. Since that time the fee to even be a patient has gone up, with proposals to jack the fee up even higher. When the initial fee hike started, I quit being a medical marijuana patient in Oregon because I simply couldn't afford it. Paying my doctor, the clinic, and then a hefty fee to the state? No thanks. After I got out of the program, fees also started for designating someone else as your grower, which I always thought was ridiculous. And now there's a proposal on the table to quadruple that fee. Per Oregon Live:

Medical marijuana growers would be subject to a $200 annual fee for every patient they grow for under a proposal being considered by the Oregon Health Authority.

Medical marijuana growers in Oregon can grow cannabis for up to four patients. Under current rules, the state charges $50 for every patient a grower takes on, but recent changes that expanded the health authority's oversight of production and processing prompted officials to propose the steeper fees to help cover the agency's expenses.

The fee increase is estimated to boost revenue from $1.3 million to $5.2 million in the 2015-17 budget cycle.

One thing that I will be quick to point out is that while yes, the Oregon Health Authority has needed to expand to oversee production and processing, a lot of those jobs will likely be moved to the OLCC when the recreational program is in full swing. That's not to say that some positions won't stay behind, but I highly doubt all the positions that are being used to justify the fee hike right now will actually be there in 2017. The State of Oregon needs to realize that they will be 'throwing the baby out with the bathwater' as the saying goes.

The same higher fees that are being pushed in a not-so-subtle way to try to affect larger marijuana growers who are supplying dispensaries are the same fees that are going to result in the most vulnerable patients having to go without their medicine. A vast majority of people that designate someone else as their grower do so because they can't afford to grow it themselves and/or aren't physically able to do it. Quadrupling fees will push those patients out of the program. I hope this proposed fee hike goes down in flames because it's a proposal that clearly lacks any compassion.

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