Pot ID applications spike with price hike news

February 04, 2007

K. Kaufmann, The Desert Sun (CA)

The number of Coachella Valley medical marijuana users applying to Riverside County for patient identification cards has jumped dramatically following the announcement that the cost of the card will double in July.

The card currently costs $100. But the county Department of Public Health last week announced that the price will increase to $220 on July1.

This news prompted more than 20 patients to apply for the card when department staffers came to the Palm Springs Family Health Center last week.

"Get 'em while they're hot," said Victoria Jauregui Burns, director of the county card program.

About 12 to 15 patients usually turn out every other week to apply in Palm Springs, Burns said, noting that 15 have already signed up for the next date, Feb. 15.

Applications are also accepted Monday through Thursday in Riverside.

The local turnout kicked the total number of cards issued in the county to 414 on Friday, up from around 390 earlier in the week, Burns said.

The jump in the county fee was triggered by an increase in state charges, from $13 per card to $142, which goes into effect March 1.

Under the state's medical marijuana law, having a card is voluntary but the card program must pay for itself. And, as in Riverside, the number of patients applying for the card statewide has been low.

The law requires counties to accept and process applications for the state-issued card. But, federal law bans all use, cultivation or sale of marijuana.

Riverside is delaying the increase for its cards until July 1, the beginning of the county's fiscal year, Burns said. The county Board of Supervisors will be voting on the increase, also around July 1, she said.

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