MMJ Patient Growth Slows to a Crawl in Illinois

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Illinois has released the latest tally of approved medical marijuana patients in the state, and the figure is a bit disheartening for companies awarded licenses to grow, process and sell medical cannabis.

While the number of patients certified to purchase MMJ has climbed to 2,500 – up from 2,000 a few months ago – the pace of approvals has slowed.

Illinois sent out roughly 200 approval letters in May, down from 300 in April and 400 in March, according to the Associated Press, citing Illinois government data. The number of patients who actually applied for MMJ cards in May improved only slightly month-over-month.

About 3,100 patients have submitted a completed application since the program started, meaning several hundred are still waiting to hear back from the state. But even if all of them are approved, the total will still be low.

The relatively shallow patient pool is becoming a growing concern for cannabis companies, which have also battled delays tied to the rollout of the state’s medical cannabis program. The lack of patients even led one company that had been awarded a cultivation permit to give up its license.

There’s hope on the horizon, however. An Illinois advisory board recommended expanding the list of ailments that qualify for MMJ to boost patient numbers, and advocacy groups are holding events to inform people about the benefits of medical cannabis.