Medical marijuana registry numbers climb, but more patients dropping off active list

The active patient numbers for Colorado's medical marijuana community crept slightly higher in January, to 108,656 people, but any significant growth was offset by a pattern of people dropping off the registry each month. Although 2,911 new-patient applications were turned in between December 2012 and this past January, the number of active patients in the Colorado medical marijuana registry only rose by 130. That means as many as 2,781 patients decided not to renew their cards and dropped off the active-patient list -- nearly three times the amount that dropped off the month before.

Several activists -- and even government reports -- had projected that medical marijuana patient numbers would drop drastically after Amendment 64 passed, legalizing small amounts of cannabis for personal cultivation and recreational use. While so far the drop in active patients hasn't been as drastic as predicted, the state has yet to iron out the details of any recreational marijuana sales in the state.

If/when it does -- provided there isn't any federal interference -- the number of legal marijuana consumers in this state could rise from just over 100,000 to potentially millions, which certainly should entice quite a few dispensary owners into switching over.

As of February 22, there were 49 infused-product manufacturers and approximately 325 dispensaries licensed in the state. That's roughly one licensed dispensary for every 334 patients. As of last week, according to the Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division, there were about 650 MIPS, dispensaries and grow operations still waiting to be licensed, with the majority of those dispensaries located in the metro area. That makes sense, since 57 percent of medical marijuana patients live in that same vicinity.

Like the active-patient numbers, the composition of those patients hasn't changed much. Men make up 68 percent of the total, and the average age still sits just above forty. A medical marijuana center or a caregiver is designated by 55 percent of patients to grow herb for them, with medical marijuana dispensaries taking up the bulk of that percentage. The only real change was the increase in the number of minors on the registry. The number went from 37 in December to 40 in January.

More from our Mile Highs and Lows archive: "Marijuana: See three-plus years of Mile Highs and Lows photos on video in under four minutes."

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William Breathes
Contact: William Breathes