New data released by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment shows that in July, the number of medical marijuana patients in this state finally climbed back over the 100,000 mark.
That's the first time this has happened since September 2011.
According to the CDPHE, the total number of valid medical marijuana cards at the end of July was 101,220 -- an increase of 1,260 patients over the month before. But as has been the trend for the last year or so, the increase in patients with active red cards is lower than the total number of new patient applications from June to July, which suggests that at least 276 people who were card-holders in June didn't renew their cards or were booted from the registry for one reason or another.
The registry totaled more than 128,690 people at its height in June 2011, but then took a five-month slide to just over 80,000 patients. Depending on whom you ask, that dip was due to increased dispensary regulations (including surveillance cameras), a glut of medical cannabis available from private caregivers, or people simply deciding the registry wasn't worth the $90 application fee charged at the time.
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The new stats from the CDPHE also indicate a decline in the average patient age, which now hovers around 41 years of age for men and women combined. Male patients still account for 70 percent of the registry.
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There was also a slight increase in the number of medical marijuana patients designating either a primary caregiver or a medical marijuana center to grow medicine for them: 55 percent, up from 54 percent in June. Those figures aren't broken down in the regular report, but back in mid-July, we had the CDPHE compile numbers for us. The figures showed that 9.6 percent of patients in Colorado designated a caregiver, while 43.6 percent signed up with a medical marijuana center.
"Severe pain" still accounts for the majority of all medical marijuana cards written. Muscle spasms -- a common symptom of multiple sclerosis -- came in second. Cancer and AIDs, illnesses often cited as the reason that medical marijuana laws exist in the first place, were mentioned by only 3 percent and 1 percent of patients, respectively.