Amendment 64 responsible for decline at medical marijuana registry?

Could Amendment 64 be the reason that the Colorado Medical Marijuana registry saw the first decline in active patient numbers in almost a year? Like a late holiday gift from a strange uncle who only sends sensible socks, the Colorado health department posted the figures for October and November late on Friday afternoon.

At the end of September, according to prior stats, this state's patient count was at 107,666. But in October, while officials collected 3,500 more applications than they had the month before, the total number of active patients rose by only 815. That means about 2,700 people either didn't reapply or were taken off the registry for one reason or another. The total number of applications rose again in November, up another 2,801. But despite this, the number of active patients on the rolls at the end of November was down to 106,763 -- 1,718 fewer than the month before.

Is the decline in patient numbers due at least in part to Amendment 64's passing at the start of November? Talking to Westword before the election, Rico Colibri, head of Cannabis Alliance for Regulation and Education, pointed to fiscal impact reports that projected as much as a 79 percent decline in medical marijuana patients if the measure passed. Some state fiscal reports had also speculated that medical marijuana patient numbers would decline if 64 passed.

After all, under Amendment 64, medical marijuana patients -- with real ailments or fake ones -- can grow the same number of plants that they could if they got their MMJ license, and without the $60 doctor visit and the $35 medical marijuana application fee for the state registry. The only thing a license would get them is the ability to shop at a dispensary...which, depending on how plans for retail sales of pot go, could be the only place people will be able to legally buy marijuana for a long time to come.

More from our Mile Highs and Lows archive: "The ten best (and also worst) homemade bongs."

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
William Breathes
Contact: William Breathes