PHOENIX — A Tucson Republican lawmaker wants people who are legally entitled to use medical marijuana to pay for a program to discourage drug use among others rather than lowering the excess fees they pay the state.
Rep. Vince Leach introduced HB 2066 which would let the state Department of Health Services use what it does not need to run the program for “education, awareness and prevention messaging.’’ He said the state is not doing enough.
Separately, Sen. David Farnsworth, R-Mesa, wants to take $5 million out of the funds to give to law enforcement agencies “for crimes related to drug trafficking and distribution.’’ His proposal is SB 1061.
There’s plenty of money to spend: At last count the health department had amassed more than $40 million.
And that situation is likely to continue. Figures obtained by Capitol Media Services show the state collected $24.9 million in fees last year from patients, caregivers, dispensaries and growers. Expenses during that same period to run the program were $11.2 million.
That annual surplus — and the ever-increasing bank account — exist solely