Wednesday, August 21, 2013

D.C. government program to subsidize pot for poor patients

source: Washington Times
By Celina Durgin

An unprecedented D.C. government program will require medical marijuana dispensaries to put aside 2 percent of their profits in order to subsidize pot purchases for poor patients.

Under the proposed rule, which was published in the D.C. Register last week and is in the midst of a 30-day review period, dispensaries will give at least a 20 percent discount on marijuana to low-income people at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

Clinics often offer discounts to poor patients, and other states mention low-income provisions in medical marijuana legislation. But Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said no other states have inserted this type of provision into regulations.

“This rule is totally unprecedented in the medical marijuana community,” he said.

Medical marijuana sales in the District began last month at the Capital City Care clinic. Prices for marijuana range between $380-$440 per ounce, according to the clinic’s website.

The sliding scale program is intended to improve access to medical marijuana for the poor, which potentially comprise a large percentage of marijuana consumers. Often, marijuana patients do not hold full-time jobs due to the nature of their illnesses that qualify them to use pot medically, analysts say. Medical marijuana cards issued to patients indicate whether they are low-income and eligible for discounts on the drug.

City officials in March proposed a subsidy program in which dispensaries would pay into a city-operated fund, but that proposal was amended. Under the new rule, dispensaries would have to reserve funds themselves to ensure that the discounts they give amount to 2 percent of their income. The city will audit the fund annually and can adjust the percentage of their profits that dispensaries have to reserve for subsidies.

It is not clear when the rule, which will be implemented administratively, will take effect.

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  1. Even at these so called discount prices no patient in poverty will be able to afford to maintain optimal serum levels. Cannabis is medicine, not french wine! This is outrageous.

    1. I agree with you 100%. I grow a vegetable garden which is not taxed (except the seeds I purchased)and I feel cannabis should be allowed to grow along side of my other healthy foods which I choose to consume.