Lawsuit hopes to lower cost of Arizona medical marijuana cards

Posted at 11:09 PM, Nov 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-05 02:09:53-04

A lawsuit has been filed against the state in an attempt to lower the cost of medical marijuana cards for patients in Arizona.

Governor Doug Ducey and the Department of Health Services were specifically addressed for their role in setting the prices that patients must pay each year when they renew their cards for the program.

Families who want to see the fees lowered say they cannot afford to keep paying hundreds of dollars every year just to renew their medical marijuana patient and caregiver cards.

Yolanda Daniels, who is a grandmother, guardian and caregiver, is part of the lawsuit. She administers the drug to her 13-year-old granddaughter Mercedes, who suffers seizures from epilepsy.  

“She was having probably five seizures a day,” said Daniels. “She was on so many meds, that she didn't have any quality of life.”

They tried 23 different drugs for Mercedes' epilepsy before they turned to medical marijuana.

“In the first month she didn't have any seizures at all,” said Daniels.

But their relief comes at a price. The medicine is not covered by insurance. And Daniels pays about $500 a year in fees. She pays $150 for her card and $200 for a caregiver card because she administers the drug to a minor.

“I don't think they realize how much they're hurting families by the cost [of the cards],” said Daniels.

Their lawyer, Steve White, is hoping to make this a class action lawsuit for all Arizona card holders.

“It got to a point where we said enough is enough and we got to do something about it,” said White.

White claims state lawmakers have been interfering with the program since the beginning.

“It is unclear whether or not the department was permitted to set a fair price or if the department was influenced by other state officials in the process,” said White.

For Daniels and her family, she says cost should be the least of their worries.

“No one should have to make the choice of saving money for a card, or their child's life,” said Daniels.

ABC15 reached out to both parties addressed in the lawsuit. The Department of Health Services said it does not comment on pending litigation. The governor’s office received the lawsuit late in the afternoon Friday and has not yet commented on it.