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What Is An EPC? Extended Plant Count Explained

Levi Roberts

by Levi Roberts

July 4, 2024 08:00 am ET Estimated Read Time: 4 Minutes
Fact checked by Emily Mullins
What Is An EPC? Extended Plant Count Explained

EPC is short for “extended plant count” and refers to medicinal cannabis patients receiving a permit to grow more cannabis plants than is usually allowed due to a severe health condition.

Different states and jurisdictions have different limits on how much cannabis a patient is allowed to grow based on local laws and regulations. If you need more cannabis to treat your condition than is typically allowed, you’ll have to apply for an EPC license.

EPC licenses can sometimes include extra requirements for the growth operation–for example, sustainability measures.

Let’s explore the ins and outs of Extended Plant Counts!

Is it Easy to Get an EPC?

To get an EPC, you have to provide medical documentation proving the necessity for the extra cannabis, which then gets reviewed before you receive a license. It can often be difficult to get the right documents because of all the red tape that medical institutions have in place, and then you have to get approved on top of that.

There is rampant racism and racial disparities in healthcare, leading to an uneven playing field for racial minorities to access the required documents to prove their health condition is severe enough to need an EPC. For example, Black women are less likely to be believed when they tell doctors they’re in pain compared to white people reporting the same pain levels.

In Fremont County, CO, the fee to submit an EPC application is $200!

So, in short, some people may have a very easy time getting an EPC license, while others may struggle to afford the fee or collect the proper paperwork. On top of everything else, the medical condition that requires the EPC can easily be a disabling factor when trying to get everything in order to apply. 

Why Should You Get an EPC?

It’s a much better idea to get an EPC than it is to grow extra plants without a license, even if for a medical reason. For example, growing more than six plants in New York can land you 1 year and prison and a $1,000 fine.

Why You Should Get Your Medical Marijuana Card

Veriheal has satisfied millions of patients nationwide by giving them access to these benefits

  • Larger purchase limits
  • Peace of mind
  • Enhanced legal protection
  • Access to higher potency strains
  • Save up to 25% on cannabis purchases
  • Skip the line at the dispensary

Meanwhile, growing more than 12 plants in Colorado can result in a $1,000 fine, which increases with the amounts of plants grown; 24 plants can land you 2-4 years in state prison and a $500,000 fine.

The Bigger Picture

EPCs are a way for people to get the medicine they need, but it’s important to remember that many states are still living in the age of prohibition.

Medical marijuana is legal in 38 states–which is a huge accomplishment on the part of medical cannabis activists–but that means 12 states are still left behind. 

Likewise, getting an EPC requires a lot of documentation and can be expensive, with systems that are especially difficult to navigate depending on race, class, and ability.

Over 300,000 people were arrested for cannabis possession in 2020, disproportionately affecting Black communities. Almost 40% of cannabis possession arrests were of Black people, whereas Black people only make up about 14% of the population.

Growing more cannabis than you’re legally allowed to can result in hefty fines and long jail sentences. While EPCs are an attempt at getting people the medicine they need, the inaccessible fee applications and mandatory documentation can make it hard for marginalized people to get the license, putting them at serious legal risk.

Final Thoughts

EPCs are a vital tool for countless medical patients to access the level of care that their conditions require. They allow people to grow more cannabis than is typically permitted when it is medically necessary.

That being said, they can be difficult to obtain if you’re part of a marginalized population(s), and if your condition is severe enough to require an EPC, that’s likely a limiting factor in your ability to easily obtain one.

If you need an EPC, an application can be found on your state’s cannabis website. Don’t be scared to work with a case manager if necessary to receive help in getting your license.

Overall, EPCs are a step in the right direction, but they include a lot of red tape and don’t address the core disadvantages facing large populations of cannabis users. Cannabis advocacy has been going strong for decades and continues to push on to this day, so hold onto the hope that one day these systems will be more equitable and accessible for the people who need them the most!

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