Marijuana: Red card numbers drop from March to April despite thousands of new applicants

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For yet another month, the total number of people on Colorado's medical marijuana registry declined, despite the fact that the Department of Public Health and Environment approved thousands of new patients. The reason? More patients either aren't renewing their cards or are dropping off the registry.

The state's statistics show that 3,600 new applications were approved during the month of April. However, the number of active cards on the registry dropped by 1,221 people, to 107,262 during the same time period.

The same thing has occurred every month since Amendment 64 was approved in November, legalizing limited possession and cultivation for adults over 21. Many experts had predicted that the law would decimate the registry, since MMJ patients would no longer need to pay a yearly fee and register with the state in order to use cannabis. To date, that hasn't happened -- possibly because recreational cannabis shops have yet to open their doors.

Nearly 50,000 active medical marijuana patients have designated dispensaries as their primary source of cannabis. If/when those shops turn into recreational stores, observers believe, the patients will go with them. That won't happen until at least January 1, 2014, however.

As usual, the rest of the registry's statistics show that not much has changed. Men still make up about two-thirds of all patients on the registry, with women slowly but steadily increasing their numbers to make up just over 33 percent. The average age for both is early forties, with women slightly older.

Most of the registry -- about 100,000 people -- is made up of those who list "severe pain" as their qualifying condition for medical marijuana. People suffering from muscle spasms are the second-largest group, at more than 16,000. Surprisingly, HIV/AIDS patients -- who many stereotypically associate with the medical cannabis movement -- make up less than 1 percent of the registry, with 651 people.

More from our Marijuana archive: "Christine Tatum: Anti-pot jihadist's questions about Westword, THC tie to terrorism, murder" and " "Marijuana: Introducing Canna-Rave, tthe first ever all-cannabis rave'."

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