Chart of the Week: Latest patient counts in emerging medical marijuana markets

By Marijuana Business Daily staff

Medical marijuana dispensaries are slated to launch in several new states this year, accelerating the MMJ industry’s march across the country.

But it’s difficult to determine the potential size of these markets, as it will largely depend on how many patients register for medical cannabis cards.

So far, patient totals are relatively low in these states.

Just 200 people have signed up for cards in Delaware, where the first and only dispensary allowed is scheduled to open this spring. That represents a miniscule .02% of the population.

About 8,600 patients have MMJ cards in Nevada. The total is promising, as it represents a nearly 75% spike from the beginning of 2014. But the patient county is still less than half a percent of the state’s population. (Nevada has had its patient registry operating for years, as locals are allowed to cultivate at home or use caregivers. It only recently passed laws allowing dispensaries and is now finalizing licenses.)

Current MMJ patients totals in Illinois and Massachusetts are just a fraction of a percent of their respective populations as well.

The good news is that the number of patients will certainly rise – perhaps dramatically – once dispensaries actually open and patients can buy the drug, as we’ve seen in other states.

In Vermont, patient numbers rose 50% over a 10-month period once dispensaries opened, with cardholders rising from 800 to 1,200. Connecticut’s jump occurred even more quickly, moving from 2,300 patients on the day the first dispensary opened last fall to 3,400 patients three months later – a 48% increase.

State laws vary on how registered patients can acquire MMJ products before dispensaries actually open.

In Delaware, Illinois and Massachusetts, home cultivation is largely not allowed. So patients don’t have much of an incentive to register for MMJ cards until dispensaries launch – which could lead to a big spike when those businesses open.

Some states have also just recently started accepting patient applications for cards, so the numbers will grow naturally over time.

Although just 1,000 patients have been approved for cards in Illinois, for example, more than 14,000 Illinois residents have applied and are awaiting a decision. Minnesota won’t even start registering patients until June, even though dispensaries are on track to launch in July.

What’s a normal number of patients? It varies greatly, depending on the list of qualifying medical conditions, the willingness of doctors to recommend MMJ, and other factors.

In general, though, states that strictly limit patient cards could end up with patient totals coming in at less than half a percent of population; a state with moderate medical conditions requirements could be at the 0.5-1.0% mark; and the most liberal states – those including chronic pain – are around 2%.

6 comments on “Chart of the Week: Latest patient counts in emerging medical marijuana markets
  1. Mike Cutler on

    As an attorney to vendors, patients and doctors engaged in the cannabis industry in Massachusetts, I disagree with the assertion above that in “Massachusetts, home cultivation is largely not allowed.” In my opinion the state law enabling medical marijuana (St. 2012, c. 369) explicitly permits qualifying patient and patient-designated caregiver home cultivation (who must comply with a new registration regulation), until a state-registered dispensary opens in the patient’s county of residence, based on section 11’s “hardship” provision. As published reports indicate that only one licensed dispensary, in the state’s farthest northeastern corner, appears on track to open this year, patient and caregiver cultivation are likely to remain legal across the state for some time to come.

  2. Aaron on

    I think one of the reasons Illinois patient count is so low is that there are pretty weighty restrictions on who can apply and be approved. I suffer from depression as well as general anxiety disorder, both of which are not covered under Illinois medical marijuana law. Until these sorts of ailments are allowed to be covered, many people like me will not be able to medicine that could greatly help.

  3. massvocals on

    Massachusetts DPH issue an affidavit which must be sign by holder of a cannabis card ( like CO.) resolving it agency form intrusion by the federal law enforcement thugs . Considering care givers are acting under contempt risk of attack those affidavit form form patients in Co were in fact used to prosecute holders and care givers also attacks on license guns and driver , a Co. law suit is pending under the protection of the Co, state constitution , Where the law was place as an amen given protecting needed over the supremacy reasoning / however my feeling is federal government gemini law campaign never challenge has allow this serpent to attack our citizen / patients whereby state vote and liberty is at risk , there attacks are acts of war

  4. massvocals on

    I also want us all to realize today the numbers are release as to card holder for medical cannabis here in mass, which are less then 5000 in number what this says is here in Massachusetts NO one trust the government doctors are refusing to give recommendations vs there own attacks , Please consider those numbers as to patients whom said can buy those numbers will supply the income or the investment cost of MMDs in Massachusetts those biz will go belly up , The lic alone is so outrageous in price and every MMds is still at risk of federal high jack ,and federal charges , frankly this is war, understand this the federal govenment does not care about heath or its citizen its intention are base in lies and employment What is needed is team of lawyers and just citizen who put forth a petition to remove cannabis form the state law books and invoke this as a constitutional amen in our state constitution in massachusetts not leaving there alone , then attack the federal government over the liberty of our people to ban them form entry This is a liberty issue in freedom in respect to this republic , those prohibitionist thugs in my view should be sent to the very correctional institution they send all of us The cannabis issue and its truth can only set us free if we give up all and it will take this

  5. massvocals on

    Dear friend ESQ that allowance you speak too hardship is all but a momentary laps of reason as DPH as you said is hostile to that reasoning open grows why not 50,000 for lic ? No other state rips off like mass leaving law empty only allowed those prohibitionist to move in

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