Michigan Considers Reducing Cost of Registering for Medical Marijuana Program

The reduction of one fee and elimination of others will make medical cannabis more accessible.
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Regulators for Michigan’s medical marijuana program are considering a reduction in fees to register for the program, according to media reports. The proposal from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) would reduce the patient fee for a two-year medical marijuana identification card from $60 to $40. Other fees would be eliminated completely, including $10 fees for replacement cards or a change of address and a $25 charge for criminal background checks for caregivers.

In a filing with the state Office of Regulatory Reinvention, LARA said that the fees now being charged were more than enough to cover the costs of administering the program.

“The revenue generated based on the current application fee for the past three years is approximately 90-100% more than (the department’s) operational expenses,” LARA wrote.

If the proposed lower fees are approved, it would be the second reduction in patient costs for the program. When Michigan’s medical marijuana program began after legalization by voters in 2008, the annual fee to register for an identification card was $100. In 2014, the cost was lowered to $60 every two years.

Director Orlene Hawks of LARA said in a statement that the department had been working to make the program more efficient.

“Our team has worked hard to streamline the process for medical marijuana cardholders in Michigan,” Hawks said. “The proposed updated rules will dramatically lower the costs associated with medical marijuana registry cards for Michigan residents.”

In addition to the fee reduction, LARA proposed increasing the window to renew medical marijuana identification cards from 60 days to 90 days.

Thumbs Up from Cannabis Community

Robin Schneider, the executive director of the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association, applauded the proposal from regulators.

“It’s a good move, especially if the state can afford it,” Schneider said.

Rick Thompson, a board member with the Michigan chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said that the new fees would make it easier for patients to participate in the program.

“I’m excited to see the state right-sizing the medical-marijuana fee structure,” said Thompson. “The state is collecting millions more than they expend every year. The fees should only be designed to recoup their costs.”

Before the proposed new program fees take effect, the state must hold several public hearings over the next few months on the matter before final approval.

Taxes Going Down, too

Medical marijuana patients in Michigan will also see more cost savings beginning this spring. When voters in the state legalized the recreational use of cannabis in last November’s election, the initiative they passed included language to eliminate the 3 percent state excise tax on medical marijuana. That change goes into effect on March 6, although medical marijuana purchases will still be subject to a state sales tax of 6 percent.

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