The number of people signing up for their state medical marijuana cards just barely outpaced the thousands of people dropping off the list from July to August. While the total number of new applications for the medical marijuana registry increased by 3,640 from June through August, to 230,847, the total number of active red cards only increased by 330 people. As we've discussed before in this space, the discrepancy is due largely to people leaving the registry and not renewing their state-issued medical marijuana card.
That trend of gaining and losing thousands in a month has continued steadily this year, with slight growth from January to February. The registry peaked at 108,951 patients, then started a slow decline that lasted until it hit 106,817 patients in June. July saw an increase of nearly 2,500 active cards, bringing the number up above 109,000.
Still, at its highest, in June 2011, the registry had nearly 128,700 active members. Those numbers dipped to just above 80,000 in November of that year and didn't rebound to more than 100,000 patients until July 2012.
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Currently, the only legal way to purchase marijuana in Colorado is through a dispensary. Legal recreational pot shops created by Amendment 64 have yet to open their doors. In the meantime, adults over 21 are free to grow their own -- up to six plants -- and they can also give away cannabis to other people. Several activists and industry folks speculate that once the recreational shops open up, there will be little need to sign up for the $35 red card. Others say that keeping the red card will be the only way to get around special marijuana taxes that could be as high as 36 percent in places like Denver, since MMJ purchases will be exempt from those taxes.
For the most part, other registry factoids remain the same: Women make up one-third of the registry and the majority of the state's cannabis patients (nearly 60 percent) live in the Denver metro area. In addition, 58 percent designate someone else to grow for them, and at least 85 percent opt to give those rights to a medical marijuana dispensary.
Interestingly, the number of minors on the registry has been increasing rapidly. In June, there were only 35 kids under age eighteen on the registry with parent and doctor approval. By the end of August, that number had risen to sixty -- no doubt due, in part, to national interest in the story of Charlotte Figi, a Colorado child suffering from a rare condition that causes painful and repeated seizures. Figi's story made the national news in August when CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta featured the little girl in a special on the cable-news outlet.
More from our Marijuana archive: "High Times feature focuses on the dabs of Denver" and "Pueblo hoping to profit from other cities' pot sale bans."