As an ever-growing body of scientific research further verifies the efficacy of medical marijuana as a natural alternative treatment for many ailments and for preventative health, more people are demanding access to this easy-to-grow weed.
And while cannabis legalization sweeps the nation, state governments are becoming more open to the idea of having a new cash cow.
There is, however, an enormous difference between the concepts of legalization and decriminalization.
The former, legalization, gives new powers to the government to create an entire new subset of regulatory agencies, registration schemes, punitive laws, fees, and punishments for engaging in the very simple act of gardening.
Decriminalization implies that the government simply ceases to fine and imprison people.
Think about it: would anyone agree to paying an organized crime syndicate to grow tomatoes?
In the excitement to escape the immoral persecution of being locked in a cage for possession of a plant, we are happily willing to submit to these massive new extortion and control schemes, while at the same time accepting the creation of all types of new crimes and criminal charges to harass and arrest us on.
As an example, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act of Illinois creates a broad scheme or taxation under the guise of concern for citizen health.
The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act establishes a patient registry program, protects registered qualifying patients and registered designated caregivers from “arrest, prosecution, or denial of any right or privilege,” and allows for the registration of cultivation centers and dispensing organizations.
Once the act goes into effect, “a tax is imposed upon the privilege of cultivating medical cannabis at a rate of 7% of the sales price per ounce.” [Source]
For individuals who wish to grow their own in Illinois, the fees are some of the highest in the nation, high enough to restrict access to many who simply cannot afford it.
This presumably keeps people dependent on the medical establishment and expensive pharmaceutical model for treatment of conditions which may be positively affected by the use of cannabis.
Patient registration fees in Illinois are listed here:
Illinois Patient Registry Fee:
One year: $100 / $50 for veterans or people enrolled in federal Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability programs
Two years: $200 / $100
Three years: $250 /$125
In Massachusetts there is an annual $50 patient registration fee, and patients are required to carry a special ID at all times when in possession of cannabis.
In New York, the fee is $50, but the government is waiving the fee, which still requires individuals to register with the government, subjecting themselves to new criminal laws.
Connecticut charges patients $100 for the right use a plant to improve their health.
A thorough state-by-state guide of fees associated with so-called legal cannabis was created by Noelle Skodzinski. A glance at the document highlights just how creative government can be in coming up with tax and regulation schemes.
Illinois currently has the highest fees, charging cultivators a $25,000 application fee (nonrefundable), a $200,000 licensing fee, and a $100,000 annual renewal fee.
For dispensaries, the fees are slightly lower, but still among the highest charged: a $5,000 application fee (nonrefundable), a $30,000 licensing fee, and a $25,000 annual renewal fee. (Maryland’s proposed fees would follow Illinois in its high rates for licenses:
The state is proposing application fees of $6,000 for growers and $5,000 for dispensaries, with proposed licensing fees of $125,000 for a grower license and $40,000 for a retailer license.) [Source]
In many states it costs thousands of dollars just to name a strain of this plant. Failure to pay this would of course result in prosecution for the violation of some law.