More than 4,500 people signed on to the Colorado medical marijuana registry from January to February of this year.
That constitutes the biggest jump in registry numbers since June 2010, when the total rose 6,557 patients from the previous month.
According to statistics released by the Colorado Department of Health and Environment, which oversees the registry, there were 89,646 people with active, valid red cards as of the end of February 2012.
Patient numbers have risen by about 9,000 people over the last three months. That followed a six month slide during which more than 48,000 dropped off the registry from it's peak enrollment of 128,698 in June 2011.
Why? One possible reason is that the registry fee fell from $90 to $35 in January. Several readers have told us they waited to re-up until the lower charge went into effect.
The rest of the stats stayed about the same -- as per usual. The average patient is a 42-year-old man with severe pain, possibly with accompanying muscle spasms. Women make up about 30 percent of the registry, which also includes 43 minors who have doctor and parent permission to use medical cannabis. More than 900 doctors have signed medical marijuana recommendations.
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The majority of patients -- 57 percent -- sign up someone other than themselves to be a private caregiver. That means that there are at least 10,219 private growers out there assuming each has the maximum five patients allowed.
As we have been following here at The Latest Word, the increase is likely short some 500 patients, all of whom saw a physician's assistant instead of a doctor and were denied a red card for at least six months (after which they can reapply). According to the CDPHE, there have been 190 appeals related to that decision and it will take through May to sort everything out.
More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical Marijuana Assistance Program of America shuts down" and "Marijuana: Colorado Democratic Party convention supports Amendment 64."