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The Oregon Legislature And Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Need To Help Low Income Patients

oregon house bill hb 3460 medical marijuana dispensaries ommpThe first week of recreational marijuana sales in Oregon resulted in over $11 million dollars worth of marijuana being sold according to several media outlets. I’m not sure where that number is being pulled from, but regardless of how close to the exact dollar amount the figure is, I think that we can all agree that Oregon medical marijuana dispensaries sold A LOT of recreational flower since sales started on October 1st. I read an article on the Oregon Cannabis Connection website that did a great job of highlighting calls from activists for using this new found source of revenue to help low income Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) patients. Below is an excerpt from that article, via the Oregon Cannabis Connection:

A few years ago the Oregon Health Authority fees for the medical program increased by double, they stopped offering reduced fees to qualifying low income patients, and even added additional fees like a “change of grower” fee. Now that the state will likely have a massive surplus of tax revenue from the recreational market, the opportunity to remove the onerous fee structure they placed on patients is apparent, but patient advocates aren’t holding their breaths.

Anthony Tayor of Compassionate Oregon, one of the states leading patient advocacy groups, explained to OCC, “Prior to the start of early adult sales we advocated for dispensaries to set aside some of the revenue recreational sales generate to subsidize patient costs.”

“It would be wonderful if the legislature could come up with a scenario that would do just that,” Taylor added. “Unfortunately they are awfully fond of the extra revenue being generated by patients to advance such a plan.”

Clinics that have seen the higher fees the past few years understand what the patients experience. And, considering that adult sales would have never happened without the medical marijuana program, Keith McCann, the Executive Director of Compassion Center in Eugene, explained, “I believe the success of the medical program is what got this cannabis movement going here in Oregon.”

“We need to relieve the patients from the burden and expense of entering in to the ommp,” McCann explained further. “I can’t see any other justified reason not to, and with 11 million in revenue, it would be shameful not to give back to the medical patient community by making it affordable to obtain or renew your card.”

Oregon’s Advisory Committee on Medical Marijuana, or ACMM, advises the Oregon Health Authority on the fee structure every year, and they have long thought the fees were too high.

“We have always believed that the standard fee of $200 was too high for this self-supporting program,” explained Cheryl Smith, Chair of the ACMM. “In light of all the new income that is expected to be forthcoming from adult use cannabis taxation, it seems even more timely to bring the fee down to a reasonable sum.”

I have always had a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for Anthony Taylor. He has worked very hard to represent the OMMP community at the Oregon State Capital in Salem, and I tip my hat to the work he has done, and the work he will do in the future. I hope that every dispensary in Oregon that sells recreational marijuana listens to what Anthony Taylor and others are saying. I used to be an OMMP patient, but was pushed out of the program when it became too expensive to afford, and there are patients out there that are much worse off than I am for sure, so I can only imagine how hard things are for them.

I know that Canna and the City in the Portland, Oregon area has already set up a ‘compassion fund’ for patients that are experiencing financial hardships. Imagine if every dispensary was doing that. I tip my hat to Canna and the City, and urge all readers to frequent their dispensary to show them how much you appreciate dispensaries that ‘get it.’ They are located at 3607 SW Corbett Ave, Portland, OR 97239 Contact your legislators and let them know that now that recreational marijuana sales are allowed in Oregon, that it’s time to revisit the OMMP’s fee amounts. If the Oregon Legislature made some necessary changes AND dispensaries set up compassion funds, I think that it would help virtually every patient that is experiencing financial hardships. With so much money flying around right now, there’s simply no excuse to not make it happen. We can do this Oregon, let’s show some compassion!

  • Mary Miller

    Let’s take a minute to look at this:

    1. the state receives $200+ grower fees. They now are (according to paper work I received last week from the State HERC wants to pass that growers have to have a MINIMUM of a 2 year residency in order to grow. This will mean that ALL patients, if they cannot show 2 year residency will be DEMANDED an additional growers fee of $50, period.

    2. Many of the dispensaries (despite what they may tell you) either don’t honor Leafly discounts, or don’t bother with having ANY discounts at all (NO DAK is one, that refuses to give any discounts in the Eugene Area). Others will give discounts, but have a solid NO RETURN policy: don’t like it, doesn’t work for you? Too damn bad! Not dried herbs, not their problem! Not what was labeled, Not their fault! Bad bad business practice, period. Many people are groaning over this, because if they have a specific need, and the dispensary doesn’t flatly care, the problem is yours, not theirs.

    3. Many consumers can’t grow: either because their housing won’t take indoor lighting/fan equipment, or because of the severity of their health, or because they rent and they are afraid of getting evicted. This is part of the problem of saying, “well just grow your own!” its not that simple. Many folks that are using this MEDICALLY have real health issues, and with real health issues comes real financial issues as well. To hire a private grower, is extremely pricey, and there still can be problems, due to greed; I have a case in point, but frankly don’t want to ‘out’ either party, grower or user, but what I can say, is the plants were diseased, the patient was lucky to only end up with a bad fungal infection on top of her type 1 diabetes. It cost her over $180 for the product she received, and almost close to 1k in doctors fees to fix her condition after the damage was done. This was in Washington State.

    4. “Regular Doctors” refuse to sign paperwork, allowing any patient to pay via insurance, so many patients are paying boatloads to clinics for a 5 minute visit, at roughly $180 to $200.00 out of pocket additional fee, plus a “processing fee” of $25.00. Last time i went to get my renewal signed for, there were over 50 people in the waiting area, spilling out into the parking lot. There was no place for people to sit. Each were given (so it appeared) the same time appointment. Do the math. The clinic space is far too small for the number of incoming patients, and as I said, a 5 minute “how’s it going” conversation was all we had; no discussion about cannabis that could have been helpful.

    We really do have a problem. The state keeps reducing down the number of plants a person can grow, is now trying in inflict a 2 year minimum established residency or the client will have to pay for a grower with fees. Many Dispensaries are being far less than kind to the patients, especially when it comes to offering any reduced fee pricing, issues of mislabeling, and bud switching. If you ask for a return, the answer is simply “no” and you’re out money. In my case, it was dripper concentrate which does NOTHING claiming to be a cannatonic mix, it isn’t. And I am simply out $60.00, too bad, so sad. The dispensary will not take it back, will not even bother to have anyone call me on the matter, so I am simply going to suffer for a month, end of sentence. No compassion what so ever. Needless to say, I will not go back, unless this is THE only dispensary. Clinics with one doctor are mass piling patients into time slots. No time is given to actually talk about whether or not the client has any issues, if the client’s needs are being met, just sign and go.

    We have to get back to folks who have serious health issues in mind somewhere in here. Yes, there is money to be made in cannabis, but that isn’t and shouldn’t be the only focus when it comes to running a dispensary, or the state demanding fees for something we certainly don’t ask for, with patients requiring valium or other ‘drugs’, do we? Lastly, since doctors seem to be cowed into “no discussion/no sign paperwork” position, we are now asking each patient to further cough up $200+ for a signature, and receive absolutely NO medical care regarding cannabis use, so it is every client for themselves, even if they have severe medical need. Something is INDEED wrong.

    • Old Soul

      MM – you bring up some valid points. Medically grown and accessible MJ
      could be made available to low income patients who can’t grow at home.
      Excess donations by growers is a start…perhaps working directly with a dispensary that openly supports a program. If we all shouldered the load
      and dispensaries played fair, it may work. I’m sure the state won’t.

      • Mary Miller

        Thank you Old Soul! It’s clear that from listening to the news in the past few days, without an increase in social security income for 2016, a decrease in food stamps as well as lack found in utility programs (that hit flat assistance), and an increase in out of pocket for medicare, that most people with disabilities or are elderly, will be faced this year, as never before to live hand to mouth. If there is an increase in cannabis production and medibles not being sold, why isn’t more being done to help this population, rather than taking the hardline approach that most dispensaries, and growers seem to be taking? We are caught between a rock and a hard place, costing us over $500/year in out of pocket expense to take cannabis, that is not inclusive of the medication itself. It’s a hard place to be, indeed, realizing that each month is an additional cost upwards to $150/month for our cannabis needs?

        • Bongstar420

          I’d sure like to have more seniors to work for….now most applicants I get are 30-45, and all counter-culture. I won’t consider younger than that unless they are wheelchair status.

          I currently only have 1 80yr old. She doesn’t even use it much at all and that includes CBD’s. She just wants to ca$h in like the others.

          Pot will get covered when doctors control patient use.

          • Old Soul

            Who cares? I don’t believe a word you write. You’re as phony as they come.

      • Bongstar420

        I was able to grow at home living off $15k per year as a student in my closet.

        You mean to say, for low income patients that are physically incapacitated or intellectually disabled. The vast majority of people can meet “medical” necessity on their own. They don’t need to smoke the chronic.

        • Old Soul

          And some can’t. Gratefully, it’s not up to you as what they choose to use. Why don’t you grow some and donate?

    • Bongstar420

      HUH….

      If you wanna sell, its a 2 year residency requirement.

      And now you can have 10 flowering plants.

      4 m91 and 6 OMMP in flower plus your 16 OMMP veg plants

      If you want some CBD meds, I would carry for you. You pay wholesale prices and never take enough to profit off of and we will be good.

      My last ‘Cannatonic’ was 11.4% THC 12.9% CBD and the BHO from it was something like 39%THC and 44% CBD. We also do other CBD cuts and have new breeds.

      I got 20% CBD for the ‘ACDC’ cut. The BHO was about 4% THC 73% CBD. Our BHO is done by a nice reputable dispensary with lots of reviews in the +4.5/5 range.

      But you see…some one must pay. If you don’t think so, then you are the one to dole the product out for free.

      • Mary Miller

        It’s not about willing to pay something, it is about us ending up paying out our entire income just to have medication. When Charlotte’s web goes for $1,000 dollars a bottle for a month’s supply, it’s crazy. I understand they have got to make back their technology dollars. Cannatonic locally, is currently only available in two dispensaries and at limited supply; $280 oz. Maybe no one sneezes at $280 oz for cannabis, but for those of us living near abject poverty due to health reasons (not because of chosen lifestyle, people with cerebral palsy don’t want to be impoverished, this is not a chosen path, wheelchair or not, which is a whole other conversation), it is not disposable income. My husband and I live quietly and as productively as we can. Having uncontrollable pain that has no end insight, and with my having serotonin syndrome Cannabis is THE only medication left, period.

        It’s easy on the computer to talk. It’s harder when it’s your life. I can’t explain it any other way. I support that we stop demanding $500+ to get our state license to use, (yes, it is when you have to pay doctors fees out of pocket, when you have to pay special handling for your paperwork, and fees for growers licensing, and so forth and so on). No other state demands as high pricing, with as confusing growing/availability, etc. I will take what you said into consideration, I certainly DO pay my own way. I think Johnny and I are just saying that the level of those helping other’s out, maybe lacking and the out of pocket costs are staggeringly high. The information we got regarding residency was from the state boards in terms of new legislation they want to change. I certainly will concede I may have this information wrong, but that’s what WE understood from the memo from the state health board.

  • JIMMYLIMO

    The system sucks when poor patients have to take toxic, dangerous drugs from Big Pharma because their insurance won’t pay for cannabis… Things WILL change, but real change usually comes slowly…

  • Gabi

    gabrilleshemack@gmail.com good stuffs NOW

  • deb

    What and when will they let insurance pay..I live on 700mon. and rent is four car insuane etc. how do I apply for help