Medical marijuana registry hits highest number since 2011: Retail pot taxes the reason?

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The Colorado Medical Marijuana Registry program has hit its highest number in nearly three years. According to Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment statistics, there were 116,180 patients on the registry as of April 30, 2014 -- raising the possibility that more people are getting medical cards to avoid high taxes on recreational cannabis.

At its peak, in June 2011, the registry listed 128,698 patients. But it was already sliding by August 2011, when there were 121,476 patients on the registry. That number plummeted to 102,592 just one month later, in September 2011, and then bottomed out at 88,872 patients in October.

Since then, the total has been slowly climbing back up. But the increase of 27,300 active patients over the past twenty months doesn't mean the exodus from the registry has ended. The increase in red-card numbers represents only about a quarter of the total number of new applications to the registry over that same time span. Between October 2011 and April 2014, the CDPHE received more than 99,000 new applications. That means as many as 72,000 people either dropped off the registry or didn't renew their cards during that period.

Although the majority of patients on the registry are male, women still account for a solid third of the total. The average age still hovers around 42, and the majority of patients -- 108,635 of them -- report severe pain as their reason for having a medical marijuana card. The most concentrated group of patients is in Denver, representing about 17 percent of the total registry. Generally speaking, all of these stats have remained the same for years.

But one group has grown exponentially in recent months and doesn't seem to be slowing down. There are now 307 patients under the age of eighteen on the registry, up 22 patients from the month before. Much of that can be attributed to the increasing popularity of CBD-related treatments for children with severe seizure disorders. It has been nearly a year since CNN doctor/correspondent Sanjay Gupta hosted a special on cannabis and highlighted Colorado children using CBD; when the program aired last August, there were only sixty minors on the registry.

While medical marijuana patient numbers were up in April, sales were down slightly, with $31,717,655 in pot products sold -- a drop of about $2.75 million from the month before. Still, the state picked up approximately $920,000 in tax revenue from medical marijuana sales taxes in April. Dispensaries in Denver, where the majority of patients and centers are located, brought in about $14.5 million in April. So far this year, Denver has seen $63.3 million in medical sales, bringing in about $2,217,603 in sales taxes.

More from our Marijuana archive: "Jared Polis on why the feds should end the monopoly on pot testing" and "Denver DUI attorney advertises on rolling papers."

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