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A Million Medical Marijuana Patients in California?

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #686)
Drug War Issues

In an analysis released Tuesday, California NORML estimated that the number of medical marijuana patients in the Golden State is at least 750,000 and could be as high as 1,125,000. Those figures represent 2% and 3% of the state's population, respectively.

medical marijuana containers with vaporizer (image via
In earlier analyses, California NORML had estimated the number of patients at 75,000 in 2004, 150,000 in 2005, and 300,000 in 2007.

Because patients are not required to register with the state, nobody knows for sure what the real number is. California NORML arrived at its estimate by looking at registration rates in other medical marijuana states that have similar wide access to medical marijuana clinics and dispensaries, most notably Colorado and Montana.

In Colorado, 2.5% of the state population is on the medical marijuana registry, while in Montana, the figure is 3%. Other registry states have lower percentages, but those can be attributed to the lack of dispensaries, limits on dispensaries, or, in the case of Michigan, the relative newness of the program.

In accepting a figure in the 2.5-3% range, California NORML is being cautious. California's medical marijuana law has been in effect for longer than those states and it is the most inclusive, allowing a recommendation to be issued for virtually any reason.

Despite the high number of medical marijuana users, there is no evidence that easy access to medical marijuana has spurred pot use in California, the group argued, citing federal and state government surveys. California is only slightly above the national average for past month or past year use and use among teenagers has actually declined, California NORML pointed out.

Based on the population estimates, per patient consumption of between one-half and one gram a day, and an average price of $320 an ounce, the group estimated the total retail value of medical marijuana consumed in the state each year at between $1.5 billion and $4.5 billion.

"The data show that medical marijuana users are becoming an increasingly important constituency," said California NORML Director Dale Gieringer. "It is time for the federal government to stop ignoring the facts and recognize their right to medicine."

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


saynotohypocrisy (not verified)

How many catastrophes? How many injuries? How many people developing problem dependency? I haven't heard of any problems related to use actually, have you? Anything serious? Why would anyone think it's a smart idea to elevate alcohol so far above such a safer substance?

Alcohol and violence, let's count the ways: You can die of an overdose, or of chronic abuse, it makes some people reckless and/or sadistic terrorists on and off the highways, including, for the real cowards, to woman and children (alcohol is very linked to child molestation), and don't forget the ticking time bomb known as fetal alcohol syndrome. If you don't like violence, why would you ever think it's a smart idea to forcefully push people to use alcohol instead of marijuana?

Even if prohibition was enforceable.

Even if public finances could afford the financial consequences.

Even if it didn't spit in the eye of the pledge of liberty and justice for all.

Tue, 05/31/2011 - 8:11pm Permalink
codger (not verified)

I am so proud to be one of a million there were far fewer of us when I got my Drs Recomendation back in 2002. How much longer can the Governements state and Federal keep ignoring the will of the people?  Ponder this The war on drugs became an industry many millions are spent every year on pre employment and current employee drug testing. The courts and  police Depts love us we are nonviolent people who in many cases own homes and are gainfully employed not like busting dangerous Meth labs. This brings us into the Drug war revenew stream they force us to hire Lawyers pay fines etc. in many cases our homes and cars can be taken under asset forfiture laws. Is the Drug war too big to FAIL? Does the Govrnment derive so much revenew from this war that it cant afford legalization?  Police Dept budgets are being cut they dearly need the funding the Feds give them to help run their departments so of course they support Draconian drug laws its a big part of their bread and butter.     

Tue, 06/07/2011 - 3:21pm Permalink

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