The number of medical cannabis cardholders in Massachusetts has soared by more than 30,000 in the past year and now is at its highest level since the state’s first dispensary opened in June 2015.
There are currently 100,000 medical marijuana patients in Massachusetts, the Boston Business Journal reported, up from 67,742 registered cardholders in March 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic was taking hold in the U.S.
By contrast, between March 2019 – when there were 65,879 MMJ patients – and March 2020, the state’s medical marijuana rolls grew by only 1,863 patients.
But when the pandemic hit, the state implemented regulatory changes that made it easier for residents to access the MMJ market.
For example, in an effort to reduce human contact, regulators passed rules allowing prospective medical marijuana patients to see doctors and obtain MMJ cards online rather than going to physician offices.
Also critical was the state’s decision to shut down recreational stores between March and May, a move that sent many marijuana consumers to the medical market.
The Business Journal noted that despite the huge increase in MMJ patient numbers, the state’s Cannabis Control Commission has approved far more recreational license applications than for medical permits – even though the first adult-use sales started in November 2018, more than three years after medical cannabis sales began.
Today, Massachusetts has 100 licensed adult-use cannabis retailers compared with 76 medical dispensaries, the Journal reported.