Medical marijuana: CDPHE stats show 40,000 patient dip in registry

As of the end of October 2011, the medical marijuana registry had only 88,872 patients with an active red card. That's the fewest number of patients in the state since May 2010.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment released the October stats late last week, showing a decline in the number of patients without a red card to the tune of about 30 percent from the registry's peak enrollment this spring.

The dip in registry numbers follows a now four-month slide of 39,826-patients from the registry's peak enrollment of 128,698 in June 2011. Denver county, which has had the most MMJ patients by county for more than two years, has seen a decrease of more than 6,000 patients, to just 13,179 by Halloween night.

Also on the decline is the number of patients designating a primary caregiver. In June 2011, about 83,650 patients had listed someone as having "significant responsibility" for managing their care. In October, that number shrank to 53,323. Assuming that each caregiver has a maximum number of five patients, that could mean as few as 10,655 caregivers are active. Average age still hovers around 42, though there are 41 patients under eighteen with parental permission on the registry. Approximately 32 percent of all patients are women.

Is the dip permanent? On one hand, plenty of commenters on our blogs from people who have written that they are not re-upping with the registry for a myriad of reasons, from not wanting to be part of a system that many find intrusive and waiting until the registry fee drops from $90 to $35 next month, to finding better deals on the black market ganja via sites like Craigslist.

On the other, we're looking at two-month old data and also know that the CDPHE has had a backlog of applications in the past few months that was only announced in mid-November. Since June, when the patient dip began, 10,000 new patient applications have been received. Also, as many as 30,000 applications were in the system as recently as November 16 when the CDPHE announced that 4,000 applications (or 14 percent of all submitted at the time) were on hold because of issues with the doctors or physician assistants signatures. That number has since increased to about 4,200.

Given that most current stats from the state are always at least a month or two old and it's really anybody's guess as to what the real numbers look like right now.

More from ourMarijuana archive: "Dmitry Genzer, Joseph Alejo busted in Cannabis & Co. sting, 175 pounds of pot seized" and "Med. marijuana patients must wait 6 months to reapply if applications found to be 'fraudulent'."