Colorado Medical Marijuana Patient Numbers Rise for 6th Straight Month as Recovery Continues

The number of patients in Colorado with valid medical marijuana cards hit 98,910 in May, a 2% increase from April and the sixth consecutive monthly increase.

That’s good news for cannabis dispensaries, infused product manufacturers and other medical marijuana businesses in the state, which have a bigger market to tap than they did earlier this year.

The latest data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment indicates that interest in medical cannabis cards is recovering from a steep drop during the second half of 2011, when new regulations spooked patients and tens of thousands of residents failed to renew their cards. Some patients also delayed renewing until January, when the state cut the annual fee.

In May of last year, 127,444 patients in Colorado had valid cards. The patient registry reached a record high of 128,698 in June but then began to tumble, dipping to almost 80,000 by November. Since then, however, the number of Colorado patients with MMJ cards has risen each month.

Here are the numbers from the last six months, with the change from the previous month in parentheses:

May: 98,910 (+2.3%)

April: 96,709 (+3.6%)

March: 93,393 (+4.2%)

February: 89,646 (+5.3%)

January: 85,124 (+5.3%)

December: 82,089 (+1.9%)

While the totals have been increasing, the growth is slowing and seems on the verge of leveling off.  It seems unlikely at this point that the Colorado registry will fully recover to the 129,000 level seen in its heyday. But that won’t necessarily translate into a financial impact for existing businesses: The total number of MMJ centers in the state has declined as well (to roughly 650 versus more than 800 at the peak) since the new regulations went into effect last July.

The decline isn’t overly worrisome, as this type of fluctuation is to be expected in a new industry.

Other stats from the latest registry data:

– 68% of patients with cards are male

– The average age of card-holders is 42

– 56% of patients live in the Denver metro area (including Boulder)

– 94% of patients listed “severe pain” as their qualifying condition

– More than 900 physicians have recommended medical marijuana to patients in the state