June 26th, 2003
The Associated Press
Oregon's medical marijuana program is running such a big financial surplus that it is cutting fees charged to patients who want to smoke pot to ease their pain.
Under Oregon's voter-approved program, the state Department of Human Services issues medical marijuana cards for $150. It then charges a $150 annual renewal fee.
The new rules will allow poor patients to pay $50 for a card and $50 for the renewal. Everybody else will continue to pay $150 for new applications, but the renewal fee was reduced to $100.
Cards are commonly issued for people with AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis or glaucoma. Some doctors sign off on cards for back pain or headaches.
The state has issued more than 5,500 cards since 1999, and the popularity of the program has brought a $300,000 surplus over the past two years, said Mary Leverette, the program's director.
Federal law does not permit the legalization of marijuana for medical
use, although nine states allow it. Oregon is the first to offer discounts
to poor people, marijuana advocates say.
Copyright © 2003, The Associated Press