Opinion: Why tax medical marijuana, unlike other meds? – CTPost

Since its inception in 2013, Connecticut’s medical marijuana program has been the gold standard in the nation. The program provides access to medical marijuana for 53,000 patients in Connecticut, many of whom can find relief for their symptoms only through medicinal cannabis products.

Unlike the recently launched recreational marijuana program, medical marijuana is highly regulated and medically delineated. Patients receive treatment and counseling from licensed pharmacists trained in the pharmacology of cannabis and its interactions with other drugs and in how to align a patient’s disease state with the most appropriate cannabis products and delivery methods.

Supposedly, medical marijuana is free from state taxes. Except that it’s really not.

Each year, medical marijuana patients must pay a $100 fee to the state to obtain a medical marijuana certificate and $25 per year for certificates for their caregivers. These fees — which amount to $5.3 million in total for the state each year — effectively, and unfairly, tax medical marijuana patients for access to their medication. No other medical treatment or therapy requires such fees or taxes, and unlike prescription drugs, medical marijuana is a cash-only market. It is not covered by insurance of any sort, so patients must bear the full cost out-of-pocket.

Every legislative session for the past three years, the Academy of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries has called on the state to rescind this arbitrary and unfair fee. But while the legislature has been amenable to the proposal, the budget office has consistently killed it, saying that there is no room in the state’s $36 billion budget to do so — and remember that Connecticut currently has a budget surplus of some $1.48 billion. The certificate fees equal just 0.35 percent of that surplus, and barely 0.01 percent of the state’s overall budget.

Further, in February, as part of the launch of the adult-use cannabis program, the state began collecting application fees for the many recreational marijuana license categories available and expects to see hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax revenue once retail sales begin later this year. Each individual license application fee can run into the millions of dollars, and the revenue derived from these applications fees alone will immediately offset any minuscule budget impact that eliminating the certificate fees might have.

Connecticut’s medical marijuana program and its patients are already under pressure from the introduction of recreational marijuana. Let’s not drive patients — who use marijuana for treatment, not for fun — further away. It is time for the state to treat medical marijuana patients like medical patients and fully repeal the medical marijuana certificate fees.

Nathan Tinker is the secretary of the Academy of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries and CEO of the Connecticut Pharmacists Association.

You May Also Like

About the Author: SteveSossin

Welcome! I keep up on all the latest cbd and thc news!