Lawsuit Claims Arizona Department Of Health Illegally Overcharges Medical Marijuana Patients

By  Holliday Moore, Howie Fischer, Capitol Media Services
Published: Wednesday, November 15, 2017 - 7:02am

Calling Arizona’s medical marijuana prescription card fees illegally high, a valley attorney has filed a law suit with the State Court of Appeals.

Sean Berberian called the annual $150 fee for Department of Health Services administrative costs excessive.

And, numbers gathered by Capitol Media Services, reveal after administrative costs are paid, the fees have netted the health department $38 million in profits over the past seven years.

Instead of addressing the surplus, “The Department of Health Services has… set a fee structure and refuse to reexamine or revisit that fee structure,” Berberian said. “When it's obvious that the fees that they set are far beyond what is sufficient to implement and administer that chapter."

Former ADHS Director Will Humble said his department was working on a plan to reduce the fee at the time he was transitioning out of the agency. But, that idea stalled when the Gov. Doug Ducey’s administration took over.

Berberian has a theory.

"This is part and parcel of the state's ongoing effort to try to limit Arizonans from getting access to legal medical marijuana,'' he said. "At every turn, the state and our governor has tried to prevent Arizonans from getting access.''

The new legal filing comes six months after Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Jo Lynn Gentry rejected similar arguments claiming that unless the courts were to take over the health department, it cannot order an agency to change its administration policies.

Berberian said in his filing he is simply asking the court to decide whether the state’s $150 fee is legal.

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