As of the end of May, there were 98,910 red card-holding medical marijuana patients in the state according to MMJ registry numbers released by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. That's up from the previous report, released in June. But despite a steady increase over the past six months, the sum still doesn't compare to the number of patients registered at this time last year.
In the months between July 2011 and November of 2011, the Colorado Medical Marijuana Patient Registry total dropped by more than 48,000 people, from 128,698 to 80,558.
The bleeding of patients stopped in December of that year, but the numbers have been slow to regain the lost ground. In the same amount of time that it took for the registry to lose more than 37 percent of it's total, it has only bounced back by 18,352. That includes the most recent boost over the April total of 96,709.
Why? Apparently, many patients simply are not returning to the registry.
The total number of new patient applications since the program began went up by 3,017 patients, to 180,925, between April and May. But the total increase in valid cards was only 2,101 patients. This implies that while the registry may have gained 3,017 new patients in one month, roughly 816 existing patients either didn't renew their cards, dropped off the registry voluntarily or were kicked off by the CDPHE.
This trend has been seen every month since November 2011 with the exception of February, when only 1,619 new patients were added to the registry but it grew by 4,522 people. So while the registry has added nearly 19,500 patients in the last six months, the tota. number of MMJ cards has only gone up by 18,352.
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Other statistics for the registry remained mostly unchanged through May. Men still make up the majority of the registry and the average age for all patients is 42. The majority of patients live in the Denver metro area and severe pain is the most common reason for medical cannabis recommendations.
A majority (54 percent) of patients still designate someone else as their primary caregiver -- and those numbers do not include medical marijuana centers. A CDPHE spokesman said the department is compiling stats on patients who sign up with MMCs; we'll update this post when and if officials get back to us.