Maryland’s Medical Cannabis Commission approves reducing the cost for medical marijuana patients.

Last week, the state commission voted unanimously to approve a change that significantly cuts the cost of a medical cannabis patient identification card from $50 to $25. Also included in the cost reduction is extending card renewal from three to six years.

According to the commission, the cost to produce the cards has decreased in the past five years. And patients have voiced their displeasure about the process, according to officials.

A substantial older patient population has submitted consistent feedback saying that the process of renewing registration is confusing,” said the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission executive director, Will Tilburg. “We’re not trying to make revenue off patients.”

The state annually collects about $12 million in expenses from those patient cards. Around $1 million of those fees contribute to the compassionate use fund, which supports low-income and veteran patients to afford medical cannabis.

Physicians must submit an annual certification for patients and the renewal process for enrollment. Currently, about 1,500 providers statewide can recommend marijuana. At this time, insurance plans do not cover medical marijuana treatments.

Chronic pain is the number one reason patients seek medical cannabis. There are 159,000 medical marijuana patients throughout the state, an growth of 12,000 in the past six months.

The commission anticipates an additional 20,000 more patients joining the program by the end of the year. The new changes will take effect in early October.