Fee assistance offered by medical marijuana group

John Zicconi , Times Argus

MONTPELIER – A marijuana advocacy group on Monday began offering financial assistance to low-income Vermonters who cannot afford to register for the state's new medical-marijuana program.

The Vermont Marijuana Policy Project will pay the $100 registration fee for anyone within 150 percent of the federal poverty level who qualifies for the new state program.

Vermont in November became the ninth state to decriminalize the possession and use of marijuana for chronically ill people suffering from certain diseases. In Vermont, people suffering from AIDS, cancer and multiple sclerosis can possess, grow and consume marijuana with permission from the Department of Public Safety.

Nancy Lynch, Marijuana Policy Project spokeswoman, said some people who qualify for the state's program may be too poor to pay the registration fee because their disease prevents them from working.

'We have heard that there are people who could not afford the $100 so we started a fund,' Lynch said. The policy project has set aside $2,000, she said.

Low-income Vermonters must provide proof of their financial status, complete a state application and mail the information to VMPP, 58 East St., Montpelier, VT 05602.

The Policy Project will write a check and file the application with the state for all who qualify for financial assistance, Lynch said. Single people that earn less than $14,000 per year qualify for assistance, as do families of four that earn less than $28,000.

So far, one person has qualified for assistance, and the state will soon consider his application, Lynch said. State officials said five people have requested permission to medically use marijuana and all applications have been approved.

Applications can be downloaded from the Department of Public Safety's Website at www.dps.state.vt.us.

Contact John Zicconi at [email protected]