Montana Administrative Register Notice 37-576 No. 10   05/24/2012    
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BEFORE THE Department of Public

health and human services of the



In the matter of the amendment of ARM 37.107.117 pertaining to Montana marijuana program






TO:  All Concerned Persons


1.  On March 22, 2012, the Department of Public Health and Human Services published MAR Notice No. 37-576 pertaining to the public hearing on the proposed amendment of the above-stated rule at page 595 of the 2012 Montana Administrative Register, Issue Number 6.


2.  The department has amended the above-stated rule as proposed.


3.  The department has thoroughly considered the comments and testimony received.  A summary of the comments received and the department's responses are as follows:


COMMENT #1:  Several comments were received regarding new legal restrictions found in the Montana Marijuana Act as a result of Senate Bill 423 (SB423) passed in 2011 by Montana's 62nd Legislature.


RESPONSE #1:  The comments do not pertain to the current rule change and will not be addressed in this response.


COMMENT #2:  A comment was received stating the new rule is discriminatory against the poor and disabled and it is illogical to charge registered cardholders a higher application fee and not raise fees on providers.  The commenter also suggested the department lay off program staff, rather than raise fees.


RESPONSE #2:  The department disagrees the proposed rule is discriminatory.  The department considered many options in order to generate the revenue necessary to maintain the Montana Marijuana Program.  There were 421 registered providers in March 2012 compared with 11,933 registered cardholders.  Provider fees would have to be raised exorbitantly in order to cover the lost revenues due to the dwindling registry numbers.


The department disagrees with the commenter's suggestion to lay off staff before raising fees.  As outlined in the "Statement of Reasonable Necessity," found in the proposed notice for this rulemaking, reducing full-time equivalent (FTE) staff was also considered.  The registry staff has already been reduced by 2 FTE which will remain vacant.  However, due to the additional verifications, administrative requirements, and the processing time that applications require as a result of SB423, further reducing FTE would result in much longer wait times for application processing and would not be an acceptable solution.



/s/ Kurt R. Moser                                           /s/ Anna Whiting Sorrell                            

Rule Reviewer                                             Anna Whiting Sorrell, Director

                                                                        Public Health and Human Services



Certified to the Secretary of State May 14, 2012.



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