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D.C. May Be First To Subsidize Marijuana For Low Income Patients

By on September 3, 2013
D.C.'s Department of Health is reviewing a program that would require dispensaries to provide low income patients with a minimum 20% discount

District officials are reviewing rules that would require dispensaries to provide low income patients with a minimum discount of 20% – While 20 states have now established systems to provide medical marijuana as an alternative to traditional medications, none have yet to introduce rules for subsidized pricing.

But in D.C., the idea seems to be catching on.

Officials at the District’s Department of Health are reviewing a proposal that would require medical marijuana dispensaries to set aside 2 percent of their profits to subsidize marijuana for low income patients, reports The Washington Times.

People at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty line would qualify to receive the subsidies – a minimum discount of 20 percent.

Published last month, the proposed rules are currently undergoing a 30-day review period.

Although when it might take effect is still unclear, the proposal has already gained strong support from the marijuana community, who are well aware of the high costs associated with the medicine.

According to The Washington Times, a large portion of marijuana patients come from lower income demographics – and many do not have full time jobs due to the nature of their illnesses.

Medical marijuana is commonly used by patients with chronic pain, cancer and other debilitating conditions.

Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), said the new program would be a first of its kind.

“This rule is totally unprecedented in the medical marijuana community.”

However, many dispensaries across the country have already taken the initiative to help certain groups of patients, despite a lack of official mandates.

According to Scott Morgan, a spokesperson for D.C.’s own Capital City Care, the dispensary already offers discounts for seniors, veterans and low-income patients.

“Capital City Care is happy to do its part to ensure that all qualified patients have access to the medicine.”

Listed on the dispensary’s website, an ounce of medical marijuana ranges from $380 to $440.

[The Washington Times]