Pubdate: Wed, 03 Dec 2014
Source: Albuquerque Journal (NM)
Copyright: 2014 Albuquerque Journal
Author: Olivier Uyttebrouck
Page: A1


Many Patients Complained They Couldn't Afford $50 Card

State health officials have scrapped a proposed $50 annual fee for 
more than 12,000 New Mexicans licensed to buy medical marijuana, 
according to new proposed rules unveiled this week by the state 
Department of Health.

The proposed $50 fee to renew a registry ID card was one of several 
proposed rule changes announced in May that drew fire from many 
licensed medical pot users and producers. About 500 people turned out 
at a public hearing in June, with most opposed to the proposed changes.

Agency spokesman Kenny Vigil said the agency eliminated the annual 
fee because many patients said they could not afford to pay $50 a 
year for a license.

The new proposed regulations also would eliminate two controversial 
rules that would have required criminal background checks for 
patients approved to grow their own supply of medical pot and that 
would have reduced the number of plants they could grow.

Under the new proposed rules, licensed patients with a personal 
production license could grow up to four mature female plants and a 
combination of 12 seedlings and male plants, as they can under the 
existing rules.

The proposed rules also set first-ever limits on concentrates made 
and sold by nonprofit producers, such as cannabis oils and extracts. 
The proposed rules would limit concentrates to no more than 60 
percent THC, the active constituent in cannabis plants.

Jessica Gelay, policy coordinator for the nonprofit Drug Policy 
Alliance New Mexico, said her group objected to the proposed limit on 
concentrates. Some products sold in New Mexico today have THC 
concentrations higher than 60 percent, she said.

"We don't need to dilute or adulterate these medicines," she said.

Some patients say that highly concentrated products are the only 
thing that provides relief from symptoms, Gelay said.

New Mexico lawmakers approved the medical marijuana law in 2007 to 
allow licensed patients to use marijuana to relieve symptoms of 
diseases and their treatments.

As of Tuesday, the program enrolled 12,419 licensed patients, of whom 
3,506 are licensed to grow their own supply.

The new proposed rules also would scale back a proposed fee structure 
that nonprofit marijuana producers had argued would dramatically 
increase their annual licensing costs.

Under the new proposed rules, the state's 23 licensed producers would 
pay annual fees of $30,000 for the first 150 marijuana plants and 
$10,000 for each additional 50 plants. Producers who grow the allowed 
maximum of 450 plants would pay $90,000 a year.

The proposed rules would triple the number of plants nonprofit 
producers could grow, up from a current limit of 150 plants.

Health officials are expected to finalize the new proposed rules 
sometime next year.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom