Medical marijuana caregiver numbers much lower than previously thought

Fewer than 10 percent of registered medical marijuana patients in Colorado designate someone else as their primary caregiver. That's according to stats compiled for Westword last week by Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment officials -- and if you think this number is very different than past ones, you're right.

In what they called a "snapshot analysis" of the registry last Thursday, department representatives found that 9.6 percent of patients in Colorado assign someone else to grow for them, while 43.6 percent chose to give those rights to a medical marijuana center. The CDPHE did not release the total number of patients in July, but spokesman Mark Salley said the percentages released can accurately be applied to the most recent counts of 98,910 cardholders from the end of May.

According to Salley, the remaining 48.6 percent of patients either grow their own or have a caregiver that has not opted into the system. The CDPHE did not provide specific data as to how many patients noted on their application that they planned to grow for themselves. Medical marijuana cardholders are also legally allowed to shop at dispensaries and do not have to sign up the shop as their primary center.

This is the first time the CDPHE has released such information, which points the usual monthly stats in an entirely new direction.

Language on the CDPHE statistics page defines a caregiver as "someone who has significant responsibility for managing the care of a patient with a debilitating medical condition." Salley also pointed to that definition when asked for clarification earlier this year -- but that clarification turns out to have been pretty muddled.

It is unclear how long the stats have been reflecting both caregivers and medical marijuana centers together. State laws and regulations that distinguished between the two entities first went into place July 1 last year.

More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana registry stats up again, but far below previous peak" and "Marijuana: George Soros link to Amendment 64 claimed, disputed"

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