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Medical Marijuana: Seniors, Vets May Get Discount Cards

The General

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Whip out the AARP cards: medical marijuana patients who are 65 and older could soon get discounted medical pot cards. The Arizona Department of Health Services, which oversees the state's medical marijuana program, wants to slash card prices by 50 percent for seniors, veterans, and those who receive Social Security and disability payments. The department about $9 million sitting in a fund from cardholders who pay $150 a year to receive or renew a card, prompting state officials to propose the discounted rates since the law limits how the funds can be spent. For example, state officials are contracting with the University of Arizona College of Public Health and poison control centers to help them manage the program.

The proposal will be unveiled Wednesday in draft rules that must advance through a series steps, including public comments and hearings. It's almost certain the discounts will pass the muster of the rule-making process since they came at the suggestion of health services Director Will Humble. He expects the new rates to kick in towards the end of the year or in early 2015. Currently, cardholders who are on food stamps – about 15 percent of programs participants – receive a half-off discount. "For seniors, many of them are on limited income and so, I felt like we should provide a discount for them," Humble told The Arizona Republic. "For people on SSI (Supplemental Security Income) and SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance), it's challenging for them to afford" medical marijuana cards.

Humble said he is willing to consider even deeper discounts for those populations. "There are two ways we can deal with the revenue," he said. "We can provide deeper discounts or lower the costs of the cards as a whole. My preference is to provide discounts for special populations." About 50,000 people participate in Arizona's medical marijuana program, approved by voters in 2010. Of those, 10 percent are seniors and many are veterans, who frequently receive discounts offered by medical marijuana dispensaries.

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News Moderator - The General @ 420 MAGAZINE ®
Source: Azcentral.com
Author: Yvonne Wingett Sanchez
Contact: Contacting Republic Media | AZ Central
Website: Medical marijuana: Seniors, vets may get discount cards
 
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