Chart of the Week: Most Common Medical Conditions of Registered MMJ Patients

By Eli McVey

Adding chronic or severe pain to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana has a huge impact on the size of a given market, as evidenced by the overwhelming percentage of registered patients using MMJ to treat the condition.

A combined 64.2% of patients in Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico and Oregon – the only states that publicly release patient counts by condition – list chronic/severe pain as a reason for using medical cannabis, according to an analysis of publicly available data.

Taken together, these eight markets represent approximately 400,000 of the estimated 1.5 million medical marijuana patients in states with active MMJ programs.

The remaining 36% of patients in the states analyzed are using cannabis to treat a disparate set of medical conditions, primarily muscle spasms, severe nausea, cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder, seizures/epilepsy and glaucoma.

The figures are of particular relevance to entrepreneurs eyeing new medical marijuana markets and business owners in states where qualifying condition lists are still in flux.

Revenue expectations and patient counts are inextricably linked to these qualifying conditions lists, and the inclusion of chronic/severe pain will significantly impact each state’s addressable market.

Case in point: Minnesota has one of the smallest patient bases in the country, and it also did not allow the use of medical marijuana to treat chronic/severe pain until recently. Now that patients can use MMJ for pain, the market is expected to grow significantly.

Another example: Illinois, which doesn’t include chronic/severe pain on its MMJ conditions list, has struggled to maintain a patient base sufficient enough to support the 52 state-authorized dispensaries.

In the remaining states that provide detailed information, chronic/severe pain is either the largest or second-biggest medical condition listed by patients.

The argument against adding chronic/severe pain to a state’s list of qualifying medical conditions stems from the broad definition of chronic or severe pain, and the lack of a definitive test to prove that patients are indeed suffering from such symptoms. It’s the same reason many psychological conditions, such as ADHD or bi-polar disorder, are not approved to be treated with cannabis.

Aside from pain, some other medical conditions can bolster the market noticeably as well.

Post-traumatic stress disorder in particular is an important condition for the industry. PTSD accounts for 4.2% of patients using medical marijuana in the eight markets analyzed, a relatively high figure considering it only appears on four of these states’ lists of qualifying conditions.

The percentage will likely increase over time, as more states are expected to add post-traumatic stress disorder to their conditions lists.

Illinois, for instance, was recently ordered to place PTSD on its list, which is expected to give the market a solid boost.

The medical conditions that qualify patients to use cannabis as treatment differ significantly from state to state, and it’s in the best interest of industry operators in all states to understand and quantify the unique financial impact the inclusion, or absence, each of these medical conditions presents to their business.

Eli McVey can be reached at [email protected]

7 comments on “Chart of the Week: Most Common Medical Conditions of Registered MMJ Patients
  1. Sarijuana on

    New Mexico’s 11,454 PTSD medical cannabis patients, (about 46% of registered patients), pales the number of Severe Chronic Pain patients, (7,319 or nearly 30%). These first quarter numbers provided by the NM DOH, along with the decline of deaths from opioid overdose, are representative of the need of every state to include PTSD as a qualifying condition. We all hope this happens.

    I realize this is a MBD is a business oriented media outlet, but I shudder to think that these patients are only considered to be an economic boost to some canna business entrepreneurs. Ouch.

    Another economic draw for some is what cannabis testing is required by a state. Our program is so lax in its testing requirements that only one lab from outside NM has chosen to do business here. I wish it weren’t true.

    • Adam Mintz on

      New Mexico did a far better job than most MMJ states in regards to including appropriate qualifying conditions. Definitely a state whose lead should be followed…

  2. Perry Solomon, MD on

    We found the same results from our landmark survey in January of this year from 17,000 of our patients here in California.
    The majority used medicinal cannabis for chronic pain/pain with 84% strongly agreeing that it provided relief with 64% using it as their primary treatment. With about 116 million Americans suffering from pain and approximately 44 dying every day fro prescription overdoses, medicinal cannabis has a huge role in providing pain relief and preventing deaths.

    Perry Solomon, MD
    Chief Medical Officer

  3. George on

    My god legalize it already! WTF difference does it make, pain is a problem for people including myself! Better than being on opioids or other dangerous pharmaceuticals! So tired of all the red tape! This is virtually a harmless plant! Thanks for the info though!

  4. Victoria Khan on

    its been said 80% of americans suffer from back pain, due to working, injury, or condition at birth; the struggle is real

  5. Feelnopain on

    My doctor wanted to put me on a regular daily dosage of Opiates for my chronic shoulder pain. I asked him about using medical marijuana instead. He said that he can’t recommend alternative non prescription drugs and that marijuana won’t work. I told him to go back to school and read a book or two. I never got his prescription and have been using MM for the past 2 years daily and my pain management is great. Doctors are in bed with pharmaceutical companies and they will lie to you when it comes to pain meds. Opioids are extremely addictive but the docs will keep filling the prescriptions for you until the day you die. Thank GOD for marijuana! The best plant in the world!


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