Medical marijuana registry drops by 26,000 patients in 3 months, says health department

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New data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment shows that as of September 30, there were 102,592 patients active in the medical marijuana registry.

That's 26,000 fewer patients than the registry's peak enrollment of 128,698 back in June -- a decline of more than 20 percent.

The registry doesn't make note of renewals, though it does say that a total of 157,392 new patient applications have been received since June 2001.

Critics of the system have been predicting a mass exodus from the state registry system for some time, noting what they see as overbearing regulations that invade patient privacy, like allowing law enforcement easier access to the patient database, as well as state-mandated video surveillance in the shops. Others have cited the wide availability of cheap ganja through other less legal sources as a reason to avoid paying for a doctor's visit and $90 (for now) to get a card from the state.

But could the dip in patients also be due to a delay in getting cards processed and putting people back in the system? As I mentioned last week, it was about a year ago when the Great Patient Rush of 2010 (as I will now call it) created an applicant bubble that backed up the registry for months. Department spokesman Mark Salley couldn't be reached today due to the Veterans Day holiday, but he assured us earlier this week that bubble I speak of posed no problems and renewal wait times are still under 35 days.

But here at Mile Highs and Lows, we've heard directly from people in our comments section who have already seen two-month wait times for their renewals. And we've heard rumors from other sources that the registry is backing up to as long as four months now -- claims Salley describes as unfounded.

I've been waiting about three weeks now, myself.

Whatever the cause for the numbers drop, I'm sure our ever-vigilant commenters will hash it out in the forum below before we can get some more official word.

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