Mass. proposes fees for medical marijuana program

BOSTON (AP) -- Medical
marijuana dispensaries in
Massachusetts would be required
to pay a yearly registration fee of
$50,000 and most patients would
pay $50 annually to the state to
remain in the program under a
fee structure proposed Friday by
state health officials.
A law approved by voters last
November allows patients with
medical conditions including
cancer, HIV and Parkinson's
Disease to seek permission from
their doctors to use marijuana.
The law authorizes up to 35
dispensaries around the state
that could begin to open late this
year or early next.
''The program will be self-
sustaining through fees on
registered marijuana dispensaries
and patients,'' said Cheryl
Bartlett, acting commissioner of
the state Department of Public
Health, in a statement
announcing the proposed fees.
The medical marijuana law is
designed to be revenue neutral,
meaning that the fees collected
should be enough to offset the
state's administrative costs in
regulating the program.
Applicants for dispensaries
would pay a $1,500 fee when
they initially apply for a license,
followed by a $30,000 fee if they
reach the later phase of the
licensing process. Both fees
would be non-refundable.
Once a dispensary is licensed, it
would be required to pay an
annual $50,000 fee for a
certificate of registration and
renewal, along with $500 yearly
registration fee for each of its
agents.
Individuals who are qualified for
medical marijuana would pay
the $50 annual fee to remain in
the program. Patients who are
granted permission to cultivate
marijuana at home because they
are unable to get to a dispensary
would be charged an additional
$100 fee.
Patients can seek a waiver from
the fees if they prove a financial
hardship. There would be no fees
charged to personal caregivers.
''The proposed patient
registration fees are in line with
other states and will be
affordable,'' Bartlett said.
The state is not setting the price
patients would have to pay for
the marijuana itself, with the
dispensaries being given
discretion to set those prices.
A public hearing on the fee
structure was scheduled for June
14.
Earlier this month, the state
Public Health Council gave final
approval to a wide range of
other regulations covering
medical marijuana.
The rules allow patients to
receive a 60-day supply of 10
ounces of marijuana, though
doctors could recommend that
some acutely ill patients receive
more.
The regulations require proof of
a bona fide doctor-patient
relationship before a doctor can
recommend marijuana, and also
require that dispensaries ensure
the safety of the drug by testing
for pesticides, mold and mildew.