Medical marijuana patient numbers stagnant in 2013 despite 10,000 new applications

Despite nearly 10,000 new-patient applications in the first quarter of 2013, the number of active medical marijuana patients in Colorado hasn't changed much since January 1. Between December 31 and the end of March, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the MMJ registry received 9,557 new patient applications (not including aps to renew existing medical marijuana cards). But over the same period, about 9,600 patients either dropped off the registry or failed to renew their cards.

So as of April 1, there were only 108,483 active patients on the registry -- 43 fewer than at the start of January. And since the passage of Amendment 64 last November, the total number of active patients has actually three.

After voters approved Amendment 64, many people -- including state analysts -- predicted a massive drop-off of applications for the state medical marijuana program. Thus far, though, it seems to be a wash. There have been more than 15,000 new-patient applications since that time, and about the same number deciding not to renew. But then, some activists suggest that the real decline in patient numbers won't begin until recreational cannabis storefronts are legally allowed to open, and that won't be until next year.

Other registry stats remain almost unchanged. Women still account for about one-third of all patients. The average age of women on the registry is 43; for men, it's forty. The majority of patients -- 101,607 -- qualify for a red card because of serious pain. Muscle spasms and nausea are the second and third most common conditions, respectively.

We also asked the CDPHE to give us a snapshot of how many patients designate a center versus those who designate a private caregiver. As of May 28, there were nearly 50,000 patients signed up with medical marijuana centers and 5,541 people opting for a private caregiver. Patient numbers for May aren't available yet, but they're not expected to vary a great deal for the present total.

The number of minors on the registry did see some changes, though. After peaking at forty patients under the age of eighteen, the number of kids with red cards dropped to 35 at the end of March.

More from our Marijuana archive: "Marijuana minister files injunction against THC driving law."

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William Breathes
Contact: William Breathes