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Balance the budget by raising state fees

Readers' Letters
by: L.E. BASKOW Obtaining a medical marijuana card became much more expensive this month when the state raised basic application fees from $100 to $200. The higher fees are expected to help fund other state public health projects.

If the state needs to balance its budget this badly, I propose raising all Oregon State license and permit fees (New state fees hit medical marijuana cardholders, Oct. 5).

Double them all: drivers licenses, fishing licenses, vehicle registration, liquor licenses, health permits, business licenses. Anything the state now charges a fee for should be doubled until the budget is balanced.

This is even better than a sales tax for generating revenue. In fact, it is a selective tax targeting one small group for the benefits of the masses.

David Lovin

Southwest Portland

Legalize, tax marijuana for revenue

When I ran for the North Portland house seat in the May 2010 primary, I supported the legalization and taxation of marijuana. My opponent, Tina Kotek, opposed legalization and taxation.

Legalizing and taxing marijuana would be a legitimate source of revenue that would not disadvantage low-income patients who require marijuana for medical use. Like alcohol, marijuana could be sold over the counter and purchased in several different forms - liquid, food, tablets, leaves, etc. -from the least expensive supplier.

It is not good public policy to use a public program or service as a profit center to redirect revenues to other programs and services (New state fees hit medical marijuana cardholders, Oct. 5). This economic and political trickery makes auditing and accountability difficult and confusing.

Those who support the legalization and taxation of marijuana need to consider seeking out candidates for the Oregon Legislature who are willing to take a public stand as advocates.

Richard Ellmyer

North Portland

Thousands priced out of program

It is not Social Security Disability, but Supplemental Security Income recipients who will enjoy the $20 (discounted rate). The Advisory Committee on Medical Marijuana should be capitalized in the article, and folks should realize that although the ACMM is charged with weighing in on the fee structure, they were not allowed to participate in this process and the rules hearing was not even about the rules that have ended up being enacted (New state fees hit medical marijuana cardholders, Oct. 5).

It is hard to see how balancing the Oregon Health Authority budget by forcing poor people out of the program is a good way to go. This will cost the OHA more money as folks who forgo the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program cards because of the added expense will need more pharmaceuticals and more emergency room visits. Voters pay the bills for this.

It could also create instant felons out of the poor folks who will not give up their medicine just because the state has put the protection of the OMMP out of financial reach.

There is also the question of the revenue-producing bill not originating in the House, and no chance for public input until after it was a done deal.

Meanwhile, the OHA and our governor (who started this fee increase by stating that all agencies who got money from the general fund now have to start generating revenue - the OMMP has always been self-funding and has contributed to state coffers to the tune of over a million dollars without pricing patients out of the program) are celebrating and telling us all what a good job they have done with the new health plan.

The thousands of people who will be priced out of the voter-approved Oregon Medical Marijuana Program beg to differ.

Although we are happy to contribute to the state coffers and certainly agree that we need clean water and we need our EMTs trained, we are not sure that pricing poor people out of the OMMP is the best way to go about meeting our financial obligations. If the state wants pot money, let's just make cannabis legal or allow state-regulated sales to patients. Don't push poor people out of the OMMP and then proudly proclaim you have been successful at reforming health care in Oregon to help ALL Oregonians.

Kristen Gustafson

Southeast Portland

Low-income people forced on drugs

This is insane. If (people) are on the system, especially due to illness, and cannot afford the card for their medicine, they are going to have to start taking chemical drugs again (New state fees hit medical marijuana cardholders, Oct. 5).

If the state generates enough revenue to fund the program, why are they trying to fund other programs off of it? This is an annual fee; it is more than car registration. I am totally sick to my stomach over this.

Katrina Whittle

Southeast Portland