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State cuts cost for medical marijuana patient ID cards

Maryland Medical Marijuana
Ed Andrieski/AP Photo
The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission approved changes to the patient identification card process.

Maryland’s Medical Cannabis Commission took one step to reduce the cost for patients seeking medical marijuana.

The state commission voted unanimously on Friday to approve a change which cuts the cost of a medical marijuana patient identification card from $50 to $25 and extends renewal from three years to six years. The cost to produce the cards has decreased in the past five years, according to the commission. And patients have complained about the process, officials said.

“We have a sizable older patient population and have received consistent feedback that having registration that needs to be renewed as well as certification pretty regularly is confusing,” said Will Tilburg, executive director for the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission. “We’re not trying to make revenue off patients.”

The state collects about $12 million in fees annually stemming from those patient cards, about $1 million of those fees are allocated to the compassionate use fund which helps low-income and veteran patients afford medical marijuana.

Doctors must submit an annual certification for patients in addition to the renewal process for registration. There are roughly 1,500 providers statewide which can recommend marijuana, which is not covered by insurance plans.

The most common reason for a medical marijuana card is chronic pain. There are 159,000 medical marijuana patients across the state, an increase of 12,000 patients in the past six months. Another 20,000 more patients are expected to join the program by the end of the year.

The changes are expected to take effect in early October.

Kristen Mosbrucker is a digital news editor and producer for WYPR. @k_mosbrucker
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