- Associated Press - Monday, May 19, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - New rules proposed by state officials would require New Mexico’s 11,000 medical marijuana users to pay a new $50 fee annually to renew their state registry cards and also triple some producers’ annual license fees to up to $90,000.

Producers said the proposed regulations would force growers to raise prices, which would encourage users to seek out illegal sources, the Albuquerque Journal (https://ow.ly/x0Qll ) reported.

“These proposals are just going to push patients to the street,” said Erik Briones, owner of Minerva Canna Group, one of the state’s 23 licensed nonprofit medical cannabis producers.

Department spokesman Kenny Vigil said the higher fee for producers would apply only to those who choose to grow additional plants. Under the proposed rules, producers could grow up to 150 mature plants and 300 seedlings. They now can have up to 150 total plants.

Allowing more plants is intended to expand the supply of medical marijuana, Vigil said.

Producers now pay a maximum licensing fee of $30,000 a year, and those who don’t increase their production would continue to pay that amount, Vigil said.

He said the new $50 fee for users is intended to help pay for the department’s operational costs, which are growing.

There are now 23 licensed providers. The proposal would also allow the department to license up to 12 additional producers.

The Health Department has scheduled a June 16 hearing in Santa Fe on the proposed regulations.

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