Increase in 215 cards to be implemented next month
February 05, 2007
Christine Bensen-Messinger, Eureka Reporter
|Two people at Tuesday morning’s Humboldt County Board of Supervisors meeting spoke out against the increase in 215 cards, voicing concerns that it is unfair to users who do not have a lot of money to have to spend more to get their medication.|
The card, which currently costs $88 to renew, will be raised to $217 because of the increase in state fees.
“There’s a county fee and also a state fee,” said Deputy County Administrative Officer Phillip Smith, during a presentation about the increase he made to the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors Tuesday morning. “We have no discretion in the (state fee) matter.”
The state’s fee, which is currently $13, is being raised to $142, said Leslie Lollich, public education and outreach officer. The county rate has stayed at $75.
Per state regulations, the cost to Medi-Cal recipients is half the county fee and half the state fee.
In December, he said the county’s health department received notice that the fee would be increasing.
Since 2005, the fee has increased from $40 to $88, and now to $217.
McKinleyville resident Daniel Pierce encouraged the board to write a letter to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger about the fee increase, which he said he considers “outrageous.”
Pierce said the increase is a burden to sick people who may not be able to afford it.
Humboldt County Supervisor Roger Rodoni questioned whether the increase will create a higher profile for the county’s medical marijuana program, leading to raids by the federal government because medical marijuana use is legal in California, but not at the federal level.
“I have no problem with what we are doing here. Just a point of concern on my part,” Rodoni said. “My concern … is the absolutely egregious disregard for the United States (Constitution) by the federal government. Because we dabble in this activity here, are we going to have the agents of the US of A (on us)?”
Peggy Falk, the deputy branch director of the county’s Department of Health and Human Services, said the federal government has not attempted to intervene in Humboldt County.
“The lack of consistency between the federal law and state law is obvious,” said Phillip Crandall, director of the county’s Department of Health and Human Services. “(But) our first step is to line up and comply with the state.”
In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act. Within California, the act allows for the recommendation by a physician for the medical use of marijuana by a patient and the cultivation, transportation and use of marijuana for medical purposes by patients and/or their caregivers.
The Compassionate Use Act exempts patients, caregivers and physicians who recommend the use of marijuana for medical purposes from criminal laws, punishment or the denial of any rights or privileges, according to the California Department of Health Services Web site, www.dhs.ca.gov.
Through their county of residence, qualified patients and their caregivers may apply for and be issued an identification card. This card will be used to verify those patients and caregivers who have authorization to possess, grow, transport and/or use medical marijuana in California, the Web site stated.
“The way the process works: a person picks up an application at the public health branch ... the application is then taken to a physician who makes recommendations or requirements,” Lollich said. “The application is returned to public health, where it is processed. A picture is taken of the applicant. His/her medical records are checked and information (is) verified with the physician.”