13,000 Arizona residents have successfully applied for medical marijuana patient cards since the program started in April of this year, netting the state nearly $2 million in annual application fees. State Health Director Will Humble said about 70 new cards are issued per day now (after an initial rush of 100 per day when the new law went into effect), and if things keep up this way, he expects 32,000 card-carrying patients by next April.
Two drawbacks could slow this growth — firstly, there are no licensed medical marijuana dispensaries in AZ at this time. Humble admitted he suspects a lot of residents signed up for cards without knowing that fact. Secondly, the card costs $150 and it’s only good for 12 months, after which time you have to shell out another $150 to renew it.
So far 80% of patient applications have cited “chronic pain” as their medical condition. One of the ways Humble is trying to cut down on potential abuses of the system is by asking medical boards to investigate a small number of doctors who are issuing an unusually high number of marijuana certifications.