December 14, 2011

Pot Patient Numbers in Colorado Slide for Fourth Consecutive Month, Several Factors at Play

Colorado medical marijuana news, cannabis dispensary updates and MMJ industry developments

The number of patients on Colorado’s medical pot registry slid by 13% in October from the previous month, with 13,720 residents dropping off the list.

It marks the fourth straight decline in registered patients since the registry hit a peak of nearly 129,000 in June. Since then, patient numbers have plunged by 31%, the lowest level since spring of last year.

The decline means medical marijuana dispensaries, growers and related MMJ businesses are fighting for fewer pieces of a much smaller pie. It’s as if 40,000 of their customers just disappeared seemingly overnight. That could force some marijuana dispensaries to close and others to scale back significantly.

Here’s a breakdown of patient numbers since summer, including the percentage change from the previous month:

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%)

It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact reasons behind the drop, but several factors are likely at work. Many medical pot experts expected to see some type of decrease this summer, when the state began requiring marijuana dispensaries to meet a whole host of new regulations. Several rules revolving around security, monitoring and record-keeping raised privacy concerns among patients, and some no doubt declined to renew their cards for that reason.

The drop-off is much higher than expected, but the situation might not be as dire for the MMJ industry as it seems. For one, the state has been grappling with a huge backlog of applications, estimated recently at between 28,000 and 30,000. Once the Colorado health department gets caught up, the registry should be closer to where it was in August.

The state also has put about 4,200 application on hold as it investigates possible fraud, claiming that some marijuana recommendations were not actually made by physicians as required by law.

At the same time, the annual patient registration fee drops significantly in January – from $90 currently to $35. A fair share of patients are no doubt waiting to renew until then, hoping to save a little green in the process.

It’s not surprising that the patient numbers are in flux, given all of these factors. A more accurate picture will likely emerge in March or April of next year, when everything settles down. At this point, the drop is certainly a concern for the industry. But it probably doesn’t signal some fundamental shift, and the numbers should rise in the coming months.

Post Your Comment:


Please note:
Comments are moderated by our editors who do their best to approve comments ASAP. As Marijuana Business Daily is focused on business, we approve comments that are specifically relevant to industry professionals. General opinions and questions about cannabis may not be posted.

Minnesota MMJ Companies Raise $30M

The two companies selected to grow and dispense medical cannabis in Minnesota have raised a [click to continue...]

Canadian MMJ Crackdown On the Way?

Medical marijuana businesses in Vancouver, British Columbia, may soon be in the city’s crosshairs. The [click to continue...]

Seed-to-Sale Tracking Trend Continues With New Mexico

seed to sale

An increasing number of states are requiring cannabis companies to track every plant from seed [click to continue...]

Oregon Catering to Cash-Carrying Cannabis Businesses

The agency in charge of overseeing Oregon’s recreational marijuana industry is planning to add a [click to continue...]

Bill Would Prevent Feds From Targeting Compliant MJ Companies

Cannabis business owners harassed by federal prosecutors despite operating legally in their respective states would [click to continue...]

Florida Medical Marijuana Measures Fizzle Out

FloridaMedicalMarijuana

An attempt to legalize medical marijuana in Florida this year via the state Legislature is [click to continue...]

Ohio Group Claims Sabotage in Legalization Efforts

An Ohio organization pushing for medical marijuana legalization in the state says a stronger, more [click to continue...]

California Industry Association Head Faces Suit to Close Dispensary

A dispensary run by the president of the California Cannabis Industry Association has come under [click to continue...]

Oregon Expects 2,000 Applicants for Recreational MJ Licenses

Oregonoutline

Oregon officials in charge of regulating the state’s up-and-coming recreational marijuana industry expect roughly 2,000 [click to continue...]

Marijuana Testing Lab Seeks $5 Million for International Expansion

One of the first commercial cannabis testing labs in the United States is seeking $5 [click to continue...]

Anti-Marijuana DEA Chief to Resign

The head of the Drug Enforcement Agency will resign next month, prompting cheers from cannabis [click to continue...]

Las Vegas Dispensary With ‘Snowball’s Chance’ Moves Forward

Vegasphoto

The owners of a planned Las Vegas dispensary held a ceremonial groundbreaking on Monday despite [click to continue...]

Another Poll Finds Strong Support for Marijuana Legalization

Yet another national poll has revealed that attitudes towards legalizing cannabis have grown more tolerant [click to continue...]

60% Plunge in Washington Recreational MJ Prices

Washington State cultivators must be hurting. The average price of a gram of retail cannabis [click to continue...]

Marijuana Business Daily