Michigan voters approved medical marijuana legislation in 2008, with the program coming online in 2009. In it’s first year the program generated $308,400 in revenue. That number jumped considerably in 2010 to more than $3.6 million. This past year, with some 115,775 patient and caregiver registries and renewals, that number jumped to $10,425,600, according to an annual report from the state’s MMJ program to the Michigan legislature.
Officials with the state say the money is going to “a new database, enhancing the telephone system and addition staff to process all of the cards.”
Considering the entire program costs about $1.8 million to run, that’s a pretty hefty profit to be made off patients and caregivers. Currently, registration costs $100 though there is a $25 application fee for people on Medicaid and disability. LIcenses are good for one year, though there is legislation currently being considered that would extend that to two years. Michigan law allows for the registry fees to adjust if they are “shown to be insufficient to offset all expenses,” but there’s no mention of what happens if they are way too high.
In Colorado, for example, the medical marijuana patient registry is forced to reexamine the program costs compared to the amount of patients and adjust the registration fees accordingly. In recent years, that has meant a drop from $90 to $35. The idea is that as more and more patients hopped on the registry, the overall cost becomes spread out across more patient fees.
The Michigan report is pretty interesting if you’re a patient in other states that have medical marijuana laws. For starters, Michigan has a really large patient base with more than 124,400 patients and nearly 26,000 primary caregivers as of the end of 2012. They also have an extremely fast turnaround of about 15 days, despite the volume of patients. Since the marijuana registry program began, there have been 344,313 applications and renewals – that’s an average of 245 entries processed every business day, not taking into account holidays.