That Is High

Medical marijuana smokers face a 1,000-percent increase in cost of state ID card, which could force its demise

Still, most local patients are rooting for Mirkarimi to succeed, and say bringing back a city card would solve both their privacy and financial concerns. Mike Welch is both a patient and a provider; he runs Sanctuary, a small pot club in the Tenderloin. He says that if the fee hike goes through and the city doesn't present another option, many of his clients will be priced out of the system.

Welch notes that the state ID card expires after one year, and the renewal fee costs the same $142 as the initial fee. In addition, a patient needs a biannual doctor's recommendation to be eligible for the card, and a visit to a cannabis-friendly doctor usually costs between $80 and $200. "These are people with AIDS, with cancer, people who are too sick to work," he says. "Even $20 is a huge amount of money to people who are living on public assistance."

If his patients can't afford a state ID card, he says, they may go back to buying pot illegally on the street. "They're forcing people out of the green market, and into the black market," he says.

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