State OKs higher plant limits, stiffer producer fees for medical marijuana
The state Department of Health announced several changes to its medical cannabis regulations Friday, one of which will create a permanent revenue stream to allow the program to pay for itself.
Another change adds to the supply of legally grown marijuana by increasing the number of plants licensed producers can grow from 95 to 150.
The regulations take effect Dec. 30.
Under the new fees, producers who have been licensed for less than a year will pay $5,000 annually; those in business for more than a year will pay $10,000; and producers in business for three years or longer will be charged an annual fee of $20,000.
The application fee for nonprofits seeking a license to legally produce the plant for medical purposes will also increase from $100 to $1,000.
Deborah Busemeyer, health department spokeswoman, said the fees are based on what the program requires to become self-sufficient — about $700,000 per year — and also on estimates from producers that by the third year in business, a nonprofit should be grossing about $400,000 a year.
"We think it's a minimal cost to producers," Busemeyer said, adding that the $400,000 estimate was based on producers who were only able to grow 95 plants per year.
The department will also increase the number of licensed producers to 25.
Other changes to the regulations will allow nonprofit producers to get plants, seeds and useable cannabis from other producers — making it easier for them to start, and stay, in business.
Busemeyer said some of the new regulations are responses to feedback the department received during two public hearings.
She added that another new rule will allow the department to collect and test samples of cannabis.
Busemeyer said there are about 3,000 patients enrolled in the medical marijuana program, and that number continues to increase. About 1,400 of those people are licensed to grow their own medicine; still, Busemeyer and Health Secretary Alfredo Vigil both said the state continues to hear reports from patients and providers that production is not meeting demand.
Vigil said Friday he feels the new rules were needed to ensure a more comfortable balance between supply and demand.
After the new rules are implemented, Vigil said he expects to see the growth of the program stabilize.
"Under the current legislation, I think we've accomplished what we set out to accomplish," Vigil said.
"But," he added, "the public can expect policy surrounding the use of marijuana to continue to evolve."
As state programs continue to grow, the federal government's policy that prohibits medical marijuana should be evaluated, he added.
"Given the number of states who now have programs, you would think that the federal policymakers will have to make adjustments. There are also issues around research. We badly need scientific research to understand what it is good for and what it is not. So, there is a lot of evolution going to be happening and that's what people should expect," Vigil said
To qualify for New Mexico's medical marijuana program, patients must have a physician certify that they have one of 16 qualifying conditions. Vigil rejected a proposal to list depression as a condition, going against an advisory board's recommendation.
Incoming governor Susana Martinez has said she'll seek to repeal the medical marijuana law
Stringent medical marijuana rules proposed in AZ
PHOENIX -- Arizona regulators have posted preliminary rules for users and sellers of medical marijuana intended to make sure only those who truly need pot can get it.
Department of Health Services Director Will Humble said Friday his goal is to avoid practices in other states with less stringent rules.
The rules come more than a month after Arizona voters approved medical marijuana.
Patients seeking pot would need a recommendation from a doctor licensed in Arizona who has either been treating the person for a year or who takes primary responsibility for their care.
The preliminary rules are open to public comment. Final rules will be released March 28, and patients can begin applying for marijuana cards in April.
Colorado city voters to consider medical pot ban
MarijuanaDoctors.com Announces Innovative New Features for the Medical Marijuana Industry
MarijuanaDoctors.com-the medical marijuana industry's first online search and booking platform for medical marijuana evaluations-today announced the addition of innovative new features to its website. MarijuanaDoctors.com connects patients with the highest quality network of medical marijuana doctors in the industry, and now also offers new services that streamline and secure the process of gaining legal access to medical cannabis and help physicians expand their practices to serve this growing medical need.
Key New features of MarijuanaDoctors.com's Latest Release:
- Patient Pre-Qualification System: MarijuanaDoctors.com prequalifies patients based on the specific guidelines of each state prior to their marijuana evaluation appointments, ensuring that the doctors in its network only see patients that are qualified to become medical marijuana patients in that state.
- 24-Hour Patient Verification: MarijuanaDoctors.com now offers verification services round the clock to verify patients' status as a qualified and legal medical marijuana patient. This service is essential for patients and saves time and money for physicians by eliminating the need to hire their own staff to handle verifications of their patients' recommendations.
- See Your Own Doctor: MarijuanaDoctors.com now offers "do it yourself" packages that empower patients with the information and resources needed to obtain medical marijuana recommendations from their primary care physicians. These packages include the patient's prequalification data from the site's prequalification system, state-specific legal information for the physicians, a pre-filled stat-specific recommendation letter, and more.
- Recommendation Letter Generator: MarijaunaDoctors.com provides state-compliant, pre-filled recommendation letters for physicians to easily print and sign for each of their patients. This system is available in all twelve states where recommendation letter guidelines exist.
"Our goal has always been to legitimize the medical marijuana industry, and these new features and functionalities will help streamline the process for patients to get safe, legal access to the medicine they need," said Jason Draizin, CEO of MarijuanaDoctors.com. "Each medical marijuana state has set up a system for patients to qualify for cannabis, and we have developed services to simplify that process for physicians, which ultimately helps the patients and helps add a new revenue stream for professionals in the ever-diminishing medical industry."
MarijuanaDoctors.com offers monthly subscriptions to physicians that are looking to expand their practices into the promising medical marijuana industry. Thousands of patients in every medical marijuana state turn to MarijuanaDoctors.com every month for quality physicians who recommend medical cannabis to their patients. The company holds high standards for the doctors allowed to join the site, and individually verifies each medical marijuana clinic and physician in its network.
Medical Marijuana rules Are Too Strict
The Legislature defied Gov. Chris Christie’s latest compromise on New Jersey’s medical marijuana law today, voting to repeal the governor’s rules and requiring the administration to rewrite the regulations. The Senate voted, 22-16, to send the state health department back to the drawing board, giving the Christie administration 30 days to rewrite the rules that now would limit the potency of the drug that could be sold.
Hours after the vote on Sen. Nicholas Scutari’s resolution, the Union County Democrat introduced a new measure demanding the Attorney General rewrite its rules regarding physicians who prescribe marijuana to their patients. The Attorney General’s rules are so strict, Scutari said, that they would discourage many doctors from participating, a possibility he called "chilling." Scutari then called upon the Christie administration to work toward "a real compromise so people who want to be in the business, and sick people who desperately need this medicine can get together in a way that is legal and viable.’’
Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for the governor, called Scutari’s "transparent maneuvering pure and simple politics.’’ "It is truly unfortunate that the senator will now further delay providing patients in need with the critical relief already achieved by Governor Christie and Assemblyman (Reed) Gusciora’s bipartisan solution,’’ Drewniak said. "Senator Scutari’s current objections were not even addressed in the original bill" he sponsored.
Medical Marijuana A New Challenge For Schools
Now that Arizona has become the 15th state to approve the use of medical marijuana, Valley school leaders say it will likely fall in the prescription-drug category, and any abuses will be handled the same as other prescription medications. Some districts are talking with California schools to see how they have handled the issue. It was the first state to approve a medical-marijuana law, in 1996.
Medical marijuana will be yet another challenge to schools as they urge students to stay away from drugs, especially since prescription-drug abuse is most common among young people. "We will continue to work with students to understand it's not healthy and not a good lifestyle choice and here's why," said Lorah Neville, director of curriculum for the Chandler Unified School District. "Just because you can get a prescription for something doesn't mean it's safe."
In the Phoenix Union High School District, spokesman Craig Pletenik doesn't foresee any changes in curriculum because medical marijuana is still a drug, prescription or not. Proposition 203, approved by voters last month, prohibits possession and use of medical marijuana on a school bus or school grounds.
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