The number of minors under the age of eighteen on the Colorado medical marijuana registry grew by thirty children in September, bringing the total number of kids with parental-approved medical pot recommendations to ninety, according to state records.
That's more than double the 35 minors that were registered as of June of this year.
And Paige and Charlotte Figi are two big reasons why.
The increase coincides with Dr. Sanjay Gupta's CNN special on medical cannabis.The news feature focused in part on kindergarten-age medical cannabis patient Charlotte Figi and the success her mom, Paige, and the rest of her Colorado Springs-area family found in treating the child's rare seizure-causing disorder. After the special aired, reports of families uprooting their lives and moving to Colorado in hopes of finding some relief for their sick loved ones began to surface.
The Colorado Springs Gazette reported that nearly twenty families had relocated because of access to medical cannabis. Among these recent arrivals was Mohammad Halabi, a Lebanese refugee who was living in New York City when he saw footage of Charlotte Figi. "As soon as we saw it, we knew we had to go," he told the Gazette.
Dr. Alan Shackelford, a local physician who gained national attention as Figi's doctor, told us at the time that he was swamped with calls from parents at their wits' end, and that his biggest concern was that the increased demand for high-CBD oils of the sort that had helped Charlotte so much was outpacing production. If so, families might be faced with a shortage of the very medicine that had inspired their move in the first place.
Children weren't the only group whose registry numbers rose in September. State stats from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment also show a big increase in patients signing on to the registry, as well as a decline in the number of patients dropping off. Currently, there are 112,862 active red cards in Colorado, the highest number of patients registered with the state since the same month in 2011.
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Active red cards grew by 3,240 people in September 2013, while the total number of new patient applications received since the program began in 2001 increased by 3,559 people. The total implies that only 319 people let their red cards expire in September. That's far fewer than several months ago, when patients were dropping off the registry by the thousands.
Aside from the patient number increases, the rest of the state-registry stats remained about the same. Roughly 33 percent of all patients are women, with an average age of 44. The average age for men is 41. Denver has the most medical marijuana patients in the state, with nearly 19,200 people. El Paso County comes in second, with 15,591 people, and 58 percent of all patients designate a caregiver or dispensary to grow their herb. Historically, a large majority opt for a brick-and-mortar dispensary over private caregivers.
Patients report multiple symptoms when getting a card, but severe pain is still the most common reason for a doctor's recommendation, with more than 105,600 people registered under that condition. Muscle spasms account for the second-highest patient population, with nearly 16,000 people.