Patients Oppose Fees On Medical Marijuana Plants

Feb 11, 2016

Pipes and other delivery methods for medical marijuana on sale at Greenleaf Compassion Center in Portsmouth, RI.
Credit Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Medical marijuana patients are speaking out against what they're calling a tax on marijuana plants. Patients say they’re concerned the marijuana will become unaffordable.

The Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition and the ACLU of Rhode Island are asking Gov. Gina Raimondo to drop the proposal, which would add a $150 to $350 dollar-a -year fee for each plant grown by patients and caregivers. The Raimondo administration says the revenue caregivers earn from selling medical marijuana to patients is significant enough to offset the fee.

But patient advocate Joanne Leppanen says the cost will be passed on to patients.

“To get into the medical marijuana program, you have to have a serious debilitating medical condition," said Leppanen. "These are folks who are coping with bad diagnoses. Many of them have lost their jobs.”

Leppanen says caregivers aren’t earning enough from the medical marijuana they sell to offset the fees. The Raimondo administration says they’re listening to patient concerns and hope to improve the oversight and enforcement of the state’s medical marijuana program.