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Marijuana: MMJ Patient Numbers Drop Slightly Despite High Rec Prices, Lawmakers' Fears

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Despite lawmakers' claims that MMJ patient numbers are growing because of people trying to avoid recreational taxes on pot, patient numbers actually dropped slightly between May and June to 113,506 total red-card holders (down about 1,700 people). In fact, the only population that seems to be increasing on the registry are minors, whose numbers grew from 335 at the end of May to 357 at the end of June.

See also: Driver Told He Was Pulled Over For Safety of Goats Walking Along Highway

In recent months, lawmakers have started looking into tax figures from recreational marijuana, which are at about half of what the state had projected before legalized cannabis sales to adults 21 and up began in January. Now the state is saying taxes for the first six months are running about $21.5 million short. Part of the problem, they say, is that the prediction of patients jumping off the MMJ registry in droves just didn'€™t happen.

They also believe the high numbers are the result of non-legitimate patients getting on the registry to avoid recreational taxes.

Larson Silbaugh, an economist for the state, told KDVR this week that patient numbers have been growing steadily since recreational pot was legalized -- implying that people are faking illnesses to get cheap herb. But, in fact, more people are leaving the registry than joining it. Along with actual registry numbers dropping in May and June, patients either dropping off the registry or failing to renew their cards far outweighed new patient applications. Since January 2014, 16,820 of the latter have been received by the Department of Public Health and Environment. But in that time, the registry has only grown by 2,476 people. That means nearly 14,344 people have decided to no longer go through the Colorado medical cannabis registry in six months.

Current red-card totals aren't far off registry numbers from 2010, when the state began heavily regulating medical cannabis dispensaries. That September, for example, there were just over 106,000 patients.

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In total, about $24.7 million in recreational marijuana and $28.65 million in medical cannabis was sold in June. Lawmakers say they would like to see the recreational marijuana figures much higher to meet state expectations -- goals that some believe were set unreasonably high to avoid sending marijuana tax money back to taxpayers due to TABOR laws.

We would argue that patient numbers have stayed about the same since recreational sales began because the only reason medical patients would have dropped off the registry was to avoid the cost of a doctor's visit and registering with the state. But since recreational cannabis is overpriced and the special sales-tax rates from state and local governments make it even worse, there is little incentive for a medical patient to access his cannabis through the recreational market. The price of herb before taxes is often double what it would be for medical cannabis.

Other registry statistics remained the same. Two-thirds of registered patients are men (average age: 41) and nearly 60 percent live in the Denver metro area. Approximately 93 percent of MMJ patients report suffering from severe pain, by far the most common condition for a medical cannabis recommendation. About 53 percent designate a caregiver or medical marijuana dispensary to grow for them, with the majority opting for the storefront options as opposed to a private grower.

One welcome change to the registry may be forthcoming: State officials have proposed doing away with the flimsy paper "red card" and issuing plastic licenses for patients. Aside from the size, the cards will replace the red ink patients are used to with ink of a slightly purple hue.


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53 comments
Kyron Rough
Kyron Rough

Cause litlle ray ray don't charge me any tax and its not keefed off anyway people are figuring out again you gotta hustle to sell the mota nowadays open past 7 pm with delivery yessssirrr here's an idea these so called policy makers should actually use the product they write policies for .....

Tyler Rierson
Tyler Rierson

Did they post a story about high mmj patient number not to long ago....

Justin Goldman
Justin Goldman

They can only charge what it takes to maintain the MMJ department. It's super cheap now and if you know a MMJ doctor it's easier to get it cheaper. Paying $75 for a red card saves you a ton of money; if you actually need MMJ.

Dawn Bent
Dawn Bent

My husband needs to, but won't register because of the negative effects it has on your record to work in the medical field, which is his goal. Go figure.

Yeroc Roc
Yeroc Roc

An I wanna go there to work for a dispensery , but after hearing they lose it that many times jus to gaff your money, idk if I'd want that.

Megan Haenny
Megan Haenny

Free notary at most shops, I've never mailed it certified either. Each his own.

Megan Haenny
Megan Haenny

It's gone down every year since I signed up. And I don't mind paying for something if it means I'll have it when my body needs it. :) connections are nice too, I just don't have any any more. No biggie.

Kelly Isabel Gomez
Kelly Isabel Gomez

Not back when I registered for my card several years ago. That may be true now, but when I dropped off the registery, the gran total to register was definitely $100+ (doctors fee, and state fee). The cheapest renew fee I could find in early 2012 was $65. That doesn't include the certified mail fee or the notary fee that was also required every time. Besides, I don't pay for weed anymore. Hook ups are nice to have.

David Thead
David Thead

So they can get their CCW then reapply

Patrick J. Fitz-Gerald
Patrick J. Fitz-Gerald

This may shock some people, but SOME of those people with their red cards did not have actual medical problems. And some of those people don't enjoy lying to their doctors.

Yuke Toofte
Yuke Toofte

Should be an id rather than an envelope sized piece of paper

Tom Smith
Tom Smith

When I was prescribed painkillers after surgery, I had to show my ID and I had to sign a form stating that this purchase was being tracked. They do register use of schedule 2 narcotics, such as Codene, Percocet and Vicadin.

Tom Smith
Tom Smith

I'm not surprised given how many "doctors" were willing to prescribe marijuana with little more than a cursory exam.

Kendall Young
Kendall Young

$15 may be cheap but why pay it? I say this every time, never been to rec shop, never going. Never had my my med card, never gonna get it. My grower stomps everything I've seen come from any dispensary ever. I'm not trying to brag, it's just the truth. So again, ok gladly save my $15 or what have you

Che Weller
Che Weller

If that was true megan haenny , I wouldnt be able to go down town and by any prescription pill I want. And I can.

Megan Haenny
Megan Haenny

Every narcotic prescription you get is kept track of, so in a way, it's a registration.

Megan Haenny
Megan Haenny

It's $15. You can afford weed but not the fee? Oh, I guess there is the fake doctor you pay. My own doc takes care of me. So for me, it's worth it.

Shaina Paz
Shaina Paz

I agree with Kelly. I haven't been able to afford to renew my card, luckily a friend with weed is a great friend indeed!

Che Weller
Che Weller

I agree kelly, if you live in 2014 America. You probably have a friend who can get you tax free weed.

Che Weller
Che Weller

You dont have to "register" for painkillers. So why register for any med?

Kelly Isabel Gomez
Kelly Isabel Gomez

I dropped off because renewing was too expensive every year. I don't like paying the government to be able to purchase a plant, either. Aside from that, the CDPHE doesn't have their shit together and doesn't always mail out red cards. Mine got "lost in the mail" THREE TIMES!!! Coincidence? I think not. Now that marijuana is more easily obtainable, I will not re-register. There's no point in buying high taxed rec weed when you can grow or get it from "a friend" who does.

Sumibraxis Dei
Sumibraxis Dei

Come on... the only reason the medical aspect was even used was as a means to toke up legally. Its legal now people... we can stop the charade, and toke up on our back porches. Only now you won't lose your jobs over a registered stigma.

Kevin A. Mahmalji
Kevin A. Mahmalji

Because the only reason some obtained their red card was for access to a legal form of marijuana. Also, we're seeing a drop in recreational prices which would help make the transition easier. $70 1/8ths the first 3 - 5 months, but now it's easy to find good quality from $30-$45.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

.

Boycott ALL Greedy Big $$ Dispensary Cartels!


GROW Your Own! -- or Support your Local Private Grower / Caregiver


Better Bud -- Better Prices -- Better People -- NO TAXES!!

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

It is likely that the State will try to tax patients even more for their medicine when the bill that usurped control of medicinal cannabis dispensaries from caregivers (HB10-1284) sunsets next year.  This is not a reason not to become a patient, but it is excellent cause to get more involved and to demand that patients be able to obtain medicine without paying prohibitively high taxes.  If we had a political organization representing the interests of patients, we might have used the five years of the bill's existence to press for the exemption of medicinal cannabis from sales tax (other medicines are not subject to sales tax in Colorado).  Late is better than never; prepare now for the renewal of the legislative campaign against people who use cannabis just over four months from now!


P.S.  We have had organizations that pretended to represent patients' interests -- remember Sensible Colorado?  Sensible pretty much vanished from the scene during the campaign for Amendment 64, and was absent during efforts to deter bad legislation in the General Assembly during 2012, 2013, and 2014.  It still has a website which claims "Sensible Colorado has the [sic] been the leader ...", but that was never true.  The field is wide open -- people who use cannabis, whether patients or not, need effective political representation and advocacy!

GuestWho
GuestWho topcommenter

@Megan Haenny  "My own doc takes care of me."  -- you mean the "the fake doctor you pay" ?

GuestWho
GuestWho topcommenter

Sounds like you are a rec user anyway. If you don't use marijuana medicinally then you have no business being a registered MEDICAL marijuana patient.  

GuestWho
GuestWho topcommenter

@sumibraxis dei     Fuck you and the rec marijuana using fraudsters that use and abuse the medical marijuana program.

GuestWho
GuestWho topcommenter

@RobertChase   You surrendered when you voted for A64.  In the future, don't support a law you can't tolerate.


surrender - give up or hand over (a person, right, or possession), typically on compulsion or demand

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@GuestWho ... NO Rec. user should have ever exploited the MEDICAL marijuana system just to get high. Every one of them that did are lying dishonest selfish bong-sucking scum!

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

@GuestWho It is idiocy to pretend that history ended November 6, 2012, but you Kathleen Chippi, Laura Kriho, and a relatively small band of freaks are absolutely committed to that proposition.  None of you can read or hear anything mentioning Amendment 64 without becoming unhinged; your derangement prevented you from realizing that my post was about HB10-1284 and medicinal cannabis.  Article XVIII, Section 16 of the Constitution has exactly no legal effect on Article XVIII, Section 14 of the Constitution, but you have convinced me that you are incapable of grasping that fact. 

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@RobertChase @GuestWho


"I do not believe that there will be any fallout for medical cannabis" -- Robert Chase


"There has been no fallout from having passed Amendment 64" -- Robert Chase


"I affirm the truth of my previous remarks; I have nothing to explain or excuse" -- Robert Chase

GuestWho
GuestWho topcommenter

@RobertChase   If it weren't for A64 and the massive taxes on recreational marijuana "the State" wouldn't be trying to "tax patients...for their medicine."  "You have convinced me that you are incapable of grasping that fact."

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

@GuestWho @RobertChase You do wrong by taking Donkey as a role model; you completely ignored the content of my post, which advises what we must do if we want progress.  Do you really want stasis so much, or do you just want it to be before November 6, 2012?  Neither make any sense at all, if you are dissatisfied with the status quo of prohibitionists preying upon those who use cannabis.

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

@GuestWho @RobertChase Look at what you just wrote:  "If it weren't for A64 and ..." -- that "and" indicates that your sentence has a compound subject; that "massive taxes on recreational marijuana" are not identical with "A64".  Article XVIII, Section 16 proposed only a modest tax on wholesale transfers of cannabis -- the sales tax surcharge was in no way a consequence of it in any sense other than the fact that if no general sales of cannabis had been legalized, no tax could have been imposed upon them.  Do you suppose that an initiative excluding the possibility of the General Assembly taxing sales of cannabis would have met with the approval of all of the 55% of the electorate who voted for Amendment 64?  How about 90% of them?  Had 90% of the 55% voted for this hypothetical amendment, it would have lost -- .55 x .90 = .495 < 50%.

GuestWho
GuestWho topcommenter

@RobertChase 


You claim to run a coalition for patients and caregivers yet support recreational drug laws that are bad for patients and caregivers. Recreational drug use in the USA is the primary reason it is difficult for patients to get access to the medications they need. No legitimate patient rights advocacy group would actively support and promote recreational drug use. You have thoroughly proven you have no business trying to represent patients and caregivers.  If you want to advocate for recreational marijuana users then change the name of your organization of one to the "Coalition for Recreational Drug Use" and quit pretending to speak on behalf of patients and caregivers in Colorado.  

GuestWho
GuestWho topcommenter

@RobertChase   You are as clueless as the politicians you oppose.  You surrendered control of marijuana when you supported A64.  You had the majority of people supporting marijuana legalization then you and other A64 supporters voted for a law that you knew most marijuana users could not abide by.   Now the majority of Coloradans don't care about the marijuana users operating outside of A64 or A20, be it consuming in public or whatever, and they seem to think people deserve to be prosecuted for violating the newly enacted, restrictive marijuana laws.  Personally, I don't blame them.  You should respect and abide by a law you supported!  I can and have listed many ways that A64 has done irreparable harm to many medical marijuana patients yet you continue to deny that any negative results were the fault of A64 or its supporters.  The blame of the current state of affairs regarding marijuana in Colorado lies entirely on those that authored or supported and voted for A64.  You witnessed what the politicians did with medical marijuana and HB1284...then decided to let them take similar actions with recreational marijuana.  It makes no sense. 


The only hope now is to work on repealing victimless crime laws, not just those pertaining to marijuana because that is the only way you'll get enough support to make a difference.  The fact that you refuse to admit that A64 has harmed patients and that you refuse to like other people's comments (like my previous posts pertaining to repealing victimless crime laws) just because they have disagreed with you in the past shows that you are engaging in emotionally driven arguments, not ones based on logic...and makes it difficult to have legitimate discussions with you.  Donkey Hotay is no role model, just a peer that I enjoy debating with and against when appropriate...wish I could say the same about you.  Let me know when you can set your ego aside and have a logical debate...until then, blow it out your bullhorn!

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@RobertChase


"2/3 of 25 is 16.333" -- Robert Chase


"I wrote that Vick's VapoRub contains methamphetamine, and the statement is true." -- Robert Chase

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@GuestWho "[Robert Chase  claims] to run a coalition for patients and caregivers"


A complete LIE and FABRICATION on his part, attempting to DECEIVE the Media and Politicians he pontificates in front of into believing his voice is more than the ramblings of a mentally unbalanced individual.



RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

@GuestWho You are of far more use to the prohibitionists than you are to the movement to end Prohibition.

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

@GuestWho Liar; my record of advocacy for patients and caregivers has been long and public.

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

@GuestWho @RobertChase So, you ignore the fact that we were never in a position to accomplish the rescission of all laws related to cannabis -- a psychotic break from political reality, at least.  You confirm that you cannot contribute to fighting Prohibition; you won't fight the felonies for cannabis using the language in our Constitution because you wish it wasn't there.  You are doing nothing to repeal victimless crimes; people don't even agree on what constitute such crimes, and there is no legal basis for arguing for their repeal.  The Constitution declares the People's intent that cannabis be "regulated in a manner similar to alcohol", and if that intention is realized, there will be no more felonies for cannabis.  Anyone who uses cannabis not seeking an end to felonies for it is an idiot and a drag on the movement to end Prohibition.  You are more of an impediment than the worst prohibitionists, and you aren't even getting paid!

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@RobertChase "You confirm that you cannot contribute to fighting Prohibition"


The reason people won't join YOUR chaotic fight, Robert, is that you've proven yourself to be a politically myopic, legally ignorant, legislatively naive Surrender Monkey.


You shot your load on A64 -- your political integrity is spent.


You sound like Napoleon trying to rally troops to his side ... after Waterloo.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@RobertChase "So, you ignore the fact that we were never in a position to accomplish the rescission of all laws related to cannabis "


Says the excuse-making defeatist who surrendered TOTAL CONTROL of marijuana over to Prohibitionist Politicians, the Insatiable Dept. of Revenue and the Greedy Big $$ Dispensary Cartels.




RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay @RobertChase Idiots and agents for the prohibitionists both now temporarily stymie further progress against Prohibition in Colorado and sustain the legal regime of cannabis being five kinds of felony, which should be an abomination to anyone opposed to Prohibition.

One weakness in your analogy is the fact that Napoleon was quickly taken to St. Helena after Waterloo; another is that we never had many effectives in the first place -- you and your foolish likers being prime examples.

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