State Legislation Surrounding Medical Marijuana

September 28, 2017|1:06 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Late last month, the National Cannabis Summit was held in Denver, CO. This provided a venue to respond to the emergence of marijuana legalization by discussing policies and regulatory approaches to enhance public health and safety, advance research, and improve prevention and treatment. Jay Butler, past-president of ASTHO and chief medical officer for the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, provided an overview of the public health and policy challenges and lessons learned in Alaska. This session also included an analysis of public health-related policy elements across the eight states that allow retail and adult use of marijuana, emerging policy areas to watch, and a panel of state health agency staff who oversee and implement state marijuana policies. The handouts and presentations from the summit, as well as the program and keynote addresses, are available to download.

With 29 states, two territories, and Washington, D.C. now allowing marijuana to be grown, processed, and sold for medical purposes, it is likely that more states will consider the issue during next year’s legislative sessions or through ballot initiatives next fall. ASTHO recently received a request from a state health agency about medical marijuana dispensaries. Using the data collected by the Prescription Drug Abuse Policy System and other research, ASTHO looked at states that currently only allow medical marijuana and found that states often impose three different fees for dispensaries: application fees, licensing fees, and renewal fees. The amount of the fees varies widely. For example, the dispensary application fee ranged from $5,000 in Connecticut to $20,000 in Minnesota, while the licensing fee ranged from $5,000 in Rhode Island to $200,000 in New York. Of the nineteen states ASTHO examined, the median application fee is $5,000, the median license fee is $30,000, and the median renewal fee is $23,750. A chart showing the data ASTHO analyzed can be found here.

ASTHO will continue to explore the ways states are responding to medical marijuana and will assist state health agencies as they consider and implement programs.