More than 82,000 Colorado residents had valid medical marijuana cards at the end of December, a slight uptick from November and the first gain in six months, according to new figures released by the state’s health department.
The 2% increase in the number of patients on the Colorado Medical Marijuana Registry is a welcome sign for cannabis dispensaries, which have had to fight for a share of a rapidly decreasing market.
Tens of thousands of patients failed to renew their medical marijuana cards in the second half of last year, leading to a huge dip in the client base for MMJ businesses. At its peak last June, the medical cannabis registry boasted nearly 129,000 patients. But the numbers declined for five straight months, hitting 80,558 in November. That marked the lowest number of patients on the marijuana registry since April 2010.
In December, however, the marijuana registry climbed to 82,089 patients, signaling a potential turning point.
Observers pinned the decline on new cannabis regulations that created privacy concerns for some medical marijuana patients, as the state and dispensaries now monitor sales much more closely and keep detailed records of transactions. Additionally, Colorado’s health department recently agreed to lower the annual registry cost, starting in January. Some medical cannabis patients with expiring cards no doubt waited until the new price reduction to renew, hoping to save a few bucks.
The registry, therefore, could see a significant spike in patient numbers when the state releases January data. Still, it will likely take awhile for the registry to reach is previous highs – if it ever does at all: The registry has roughly 45,000 fewer patients than it did in June.
Here’s a breakdown of Colorado Medical Marijuana Registry numbers over the last eight months:
May: 127,444 (+1.1%)
June: 128,698, (+ less than 1%)
July: 127,816, (- less than 1%)
August: 121,476, (- 5%)
September: 102,592, (-15.5%)
October: 88,872, (-13.4%)
November: 80,558 (-9.3%)
December: 82,089 (+1.9%)