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Bill would lower fees for patients, businesses in Iowa’s medical marijuana program

DES MOINES — Two senators who helped launch the state’s medical marijuana program have begun working on a bill that would dramatically reduce the fee for the state-issued card given to Iowans who qualify for the program.

Senator Brad Zaun, a Republican from Urbandale, said his main aim is to make the products more accessible to more Iowans.

“It’s pretty ridiculous that you could go to a casino a heck of a lot easier than you can go to a medical dispensary for cannabis,” Zaun said.

The bill would lower the cost for a medical cannabis card from $100 a year to just $10 every other year.

“On the fees, I’m not interested in making money,” Zaun said. “These are people that are going through some tough time times, mostly if you’re a cancer patient or any kind of physical ailment that you have.”

The bill would dramatically reduce the fees paid by the companies that are licensed to grow, produce and sell medical marijuana products in Iowa. Senator Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat from Iowa City, said the fees have to cover the $600,000-$700,000 it costs a state agency to oversees the program.

“At the same time, I’m sympathetic to the issues that the manufacturer and the dispensaries have brought,” Bolkcom said. “These have been hefty fees and over the last couple of years the department has actually reduced the annual registration fee for the companies which has been helpful, but maybe not enough.”

Bolkcom said he “totally supports” the state tax deduction for the businesses that’s included in the bill, so they can write off expenses. Bolkcom and Zaun have voted to move the bill out of a Senate subcommittee, but that’s just the first stop in a lengthy process that both senators expects will lead to changes in the bill.

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