At Least 1 – 1.5 Million Americans are Legal Medical Marijuana Patients Market for these patients in sixteen states and D.C. estimated at between $2 – $6 billion annually

Between one to one-and-a-half million people are legally authorized by their state to use marijuana in the United States, according to data compiled by NORML from state medical marijuana registries and patient estimates.  Assuming usage of one-half to one gram of cannabis medicine per day per patient and an average retail price of $320 per ouncethese legal consumers represent a $2.3 to $6.2 billion dollar market annually.

Based on state medical marijuana laws, the amounts of cannabis these legal marijuana users are entitled to possess means there is between 566 – 803 thousand pounds of legal usable cannabis allowed under state law in America.  These patients are allowed to cultivate between 17 – 24 million legal cannabis plants.  There may possibly be more, as California and New Mexico “limits” may be exceeded with doctor’s permission and some California counties explicitly allow greater amounts, so there may be as much as 1 million pounds of state-legal cannabis allowed under state law in America.

Active Medical Marijuana State (Total population of sixteen medical marijuana states + D.C. = over 90 million.  D.C., Delaware, and New Jersey programs are not yet active.) # Legal Medical Marijuana Patients (% of state population)
California (1996) – No central state registry, 2% – 3% of overall population estimate by Dale Gieringer at California NORML by comparing rates in Colorado & Montana. ~750,000 (2.00%)

~1,125,000 (3.00%)

Washington (1998) – No registry, 1% – 1.5% of overall population estimate by Russ Belville at NORML by comparing rates in Oregon & Colorado. ~67,000 (1.00%)

~100,000 (1.50%)

Oregon (1998) – Centralized state registry data published online. 39,774 (1.04%)
Alaska (1998) – No data online, verified by author’s call to Alaska Bureau of Vital Statistics. 380 (0.05%)
Maine (1999) – Centralized state registry data published online. 796 (0.06%)
Nevada (2000) – 2008 figures from ProCon.org, awaiting return call from state for official number. 860 (0.03%)
Hawaii (2000) – Estimate from Pam Lichty of Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii; program is run by law enforcement who are reluctant to release data. ~8,000 (0.59%)
Colorado (2000) – Centralized state registry data published online. 123,890 (2.46%)
Vermont (2004) – No data online, verified by author’s call to Vermont Criminal Information Center. 349 (0.06%)
Montana (2004) – Centralized state registry data published online. 30,609 (3.09%)
Rhode Island (2006) – Centralized state registry data published online. 3,069 (0.29%)
New Mexico (2007) – Centralized state registry data published online. 3,615 (0.18%)
Michigan (2008) – Centralized state registry data published online. 75,521 (0.76%)
Arizona (2010) – Centralized state registry data published online. 3,696 (0.06%)
TOTAL US LEGAL MARIJUANA — USERS ~1,100,000 (1.22%)

~1,500,000 (1.67%)

Yet after fifteen years, one million patients, and a million pounds of legal marijuana, few if any of the dire predictions by opponents of medical marijuana have come to fruition.  Medical marijuana states like Oregon are experiencing their lowest-ever rates of workplace fatalities, injuries, and accidents.  States like Colorado are experiencing their lowest rates in three decades of fatal crashes per million miles driven.  In medical marijuana states for which we have data (through Michigan in 2008), use by minor teenagers is down in all but Maine and down by at least 10% in states with the greatest proportion of their population using medical cannabis.

Medical Marijuana State Age 12-17 Monthly Use When Passed Age 12-17 Monthly Use in 2008
Highway Fatalities When Passed
Highway Fatalities in 2009
Workplace Injuries / Illness When Passed Workplace Injuries / Illness in 2009
California (1996) 7.70%
6.86% 3,989 3,081 7.1%
4.2%
Washington (1996) 9.90%
7.17% 662 492 9.2%
5.3%
Oregon (1998) 9.60%
8.22% 538 377 6.8%
4.5%
Alaska (1998) 10.40%
8.03% 70 64 7.4%
4.6%
Maine (1999) 7.20%
9.06% 181 159 8.8%
5.6%
Nevada (2000) 9.54%
7.52% 323 243 7.2%
4.4%
Hawaii (2000) 8.72%
7.07% 132 109 6.2%
4.2%
Colorado (2000) 10.80%
9.10% 681 465 n/a n/a
Vermont (2004) 11.11%
10.86% 98 74 5.6%
5.1%
Montana (2004) 10.00%
8.60% 229 221 7.2%
5.3%
Rhode Island (2006) 9.74%
9.46% 81 83 5.2%
n/a
New Mexico (2007) 8.73%
8.19% 413 361 5.0%
4.8%
Michigan (2008) n/a 7.36% 980 871 4.5%
4.2%

Fourteen of the seventeen medical marijuana jurisdictions have mandatory registries while two (California and Colorado) offer optional registries and one (Washington) has no registry system.  Estimating California’s patient numbers is hampered by its registry system being on a county-by-county basis.  California NORML’s Dale Gieringer estimates between 2% – 3% of the state’s population are holding medical marijuana recommendations – meaning possibly over one million medical marijuana patients in California alone.

California’s patient population can be estimated from data from other medical marijuana states where patients are required to register, shown in the table below. The top two of these are Colorado and Montana, which, like California, have a well developed network of cannabis clinics and dispensaries, and which report usage rates of 2.5% and 3.0%, respectively. Other states, where medical marijuana is less developed, report lower rates of 1% and less. However, California is likely to be on the high side because it has the oldest and most liberal law in the nation. Significantly, California is the only state that permits marijuana to be used for any condition for which it provides relief – in particular, psychiatric disorders, such as PTSD, bipolar disorder, ADD, anxiety and depression, which account for some 20%-25% of the total patient population. Adjusting for this, usage in California could be as much as 25% to 33% higher than in Colorado and Montana, which would put it well over 3% of the population (1,125,000).

A 2%+ patient population estimate is supported by data from the Oakland Patient ID Center, which has been issuing patient identification cards to its members since 1996. The OPIDC serves patients from all over the state, but especially the greater Oakland-East Bay area of Northern California, where its cards are honored by law enforcement. As of 2010, the OPIDC had issued ID’s to 19,805 members from five East Bay cities (Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda, Hayward and Richmond), amounting to 2.4% of the local population.Because the cards were issued over a period of 14 years, they include numerous patients who have lapsed, moved, or deceased. On the other hand, they do not include many other local patients who have current recommendations but never registered with the OPIDC.

We have made a similar estimate for Washington State’s patients, who are the only ones in the nation with no registry system in place (Gov. Gregoire recently signed a bill that initiates a voluntary registry).  With a law very similar to Oregon’s concerning qualifying conditions, applying Oregon’s 1.04% patient population figure gives us about 69,000 patients in Washington. However, Washington State’s larger urban centers (Seattle and Spokane), combined with a more liberal law than Oregon’s regarding who can sign recommendations (osteopaths, naturopaths, and nurse practitioners can recommend in Washington) and the lack of a state registry’s burden to patient compliance with the program suggests a higher estimate of 1.5% – 2% may be appropriate.  Numbers like Colorado’s 2.5% and Montana’s 3% are improbable as Washington lacks the greater patient access to dispensaries seen in those states.

Delaware, New Jersey, and D.C.’s programs are not operational yet, so they are not shown in our data table.  Most of the other state’s programs produce reports of patient registry numbers.  With Arizona signing up over 3,600 patients since mid-April, when it’s online-only registration went into effect, Arizona is on track to register over 30,000 patients this year.

Quick Facts about Medical Marijuana States:

  • The 1.1 – 1.5 million estimated and registered medical marijuana patients in America are legally entitled to cultivate 17 – 24 million cannabis plants and possess 283 –  402 tons of harvested buds.
  • The seventeen jurisdictions with medical marijuana encompass over 90 million Americans and 162 votes in the 2012 Electoral College.
  • Patients make up over 3% of the population of Montana, almost 2.5% of Colorado, over 2% of California. and over 1% of Oregon, and Washington.
  • After Michigan at 0.76% of population, every other medical marijuana state has less than 3 in 1,000 (0.3%) patients in its population.
  • California, Colorado, Washington, Michigan, Oregon, and Montana comprise over 98% of the legal medical marijuana patients in America.
  • More than 3 out of four (77% – 83%) of all medical marijuana patients live on the West Coast.
  • Rhode Island and Vermont, two states where over 10% of the adult population uses marijuana monthly, have patient populations of 0.29% and 0.05%, respectively.
  • Monthly teen use of marijuana is down in every medical marijuana state except Maine.
  • Annual highway fatalities are down in every medical marijuana state except Rhode Island.
  • Incidents of workplace injuries and illnesses are down in every medical marijuana state.

85% of Grandparent Respondents Favor Marijuana Legalization, According to GRAND Magazine Reader Poll

elders smoke pot

Online Magazine for Grandparents Releases Response Results to Op-Ed Question Posed in its March/April Issue

St. Petersburg, FL. (PRWEB) May 26, 2011

Attitudes about the criminalization of marijuana may be changing among the elders of our society, as the more than 70 million of the baby boomer generation, one to widely experiment with recreational drug use, have and will become grandparents.

GRAND Magazine, the online magazine for today’s grandparents, released today results from their poll question which appeared in the March/April issue. It asked readers if it was time to legalize marijuana. 85% responded that they agreed it was.

The reader respondents who are pot proponents argued in their responses that it is hypocritical to outlaw pot when cigarettes, alcohol and fat-laden foods are legal but account for so many health issues among our population. They point out that marijuana is used to treat medical symptoms such as pain and nausea, and that in some states it is legal for shops to dispense medical marijuana. The billions that are spent in the U.S. on policing and courts related to this issue could be spent on better schools or infrastructure.

Grandparents who are part of the baby boomer generation (those born from 1946 to 1964)(1) have a unique perspective on marijuana, having come of age during a time when pot use became mainstream. 21st century grandparents are a group with a significant influence on the country’s youth as they are the primary caregivers for more than 6 million children(2). In fact, approximately 75 percent of all non-parental care of children is provided by a grandparent(3), representing a large shift in family dynamics. Now it seems that as they guide and influence new generations, they view marijuana use increasingly as a harmless indulgence rather than a gateway to a lifetime of drug abuse.

Among the reader response comments were:

“I am a grandparent strongly in favor of decriminalization. I would much rather my grandkids smoke pot than use cigarettes or alcohol. I expect I will need cannabis for my health soon and don’t want (it) to be illegal. The whole charade needs to stop; we are blowing far too much money on the drug war and have no positive results to show for it. The whole approach is counterproductive,” said D.W., Guysville, OH.

“I am a grandparent of a 17 year-old granddaughter who has been struggling with drug addiction since she was 14 years old. I believe that marijuana is a gateway drug and it has always been her reluctance to give up pot that has brought her back again and again to more dangerous drugs. I understand that the same arguments that have been used for years with the responsible adult consumption of alcohol apply to responsible adult use of pot. … I would vote against legal sale of marijuana…,” said A.C.

To read additional reader responses, click here

The link to the page in the GRAND magazine March/April online edition op-ed reader poll that asks, ‘Is it time to legalize marijuana?’ is: http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/grand/20110304_v3/index.php#/51/OnePage

GRAND Magazine
GRAND magazine is an online bi-monthly magazine that serves the more than 70 million U.S. grandparent market. It is delivered exclusively in digital format. It is published by GRAND Media, LLC, which was established in 2004. For more information about GRAND magazine visit: http://www.GRANDmagazine.com.

1. U.S. Census Bureau
2. American Community Survey, 2007, U.S. Census Bureau
3. State Fact Sheet for Grandparents and Other Relatives Raising Children, 2007, AARP Foundation, Brookdale Foundation Group, Casey Family Programs, Child Welfare League of America, Children’s Defense Fund, and Generations United

For medical marijuana, some doses delectable Advocates see a niche for pot in edible forms

Medical Edible Marijuana

by Karen Fernau – May. 30, 2011 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

If Ganja Gourmet’s plans to expand its edible-marijuana business to Phoenix come through, medical-pot users can expect it to be more of a cafe than a pharmacy.

Its Denver location is stocked with tamales, pot pot pies and mousse cakes, designed to cater to those who would rather eat than smoke their medicine.

“It’s safer than smoking and more socially acceptable,” said owner Steve Horwitz, who also believes there are health advantages to eating medical marijuana vs. smoking it.

Horwitz hopes to open a branch in the Valley by late 2011, though it’s unclear when the first marijuana dispensary will open.

Challenges abound to the implementation of Arizona’s new medical-marijuana law.

On Friday, the director of the state’s health department temporarily halted plans to begin accepting applications to run dispensaries this week pending a federal court ruling on the new state law.

In other states with medical-marijuana laws, edible marijuana products are a burgeoning industry, ramped up by a foodie revolution.

Patients shouldn’t look for 1960s-era brownies with the consistency of grass clippings and a bitter aftertaste. Modern-day edibles, instead of simply mixing weed into batter, are prepared with pot-infused oils or butter, known as cannabutter.

Edible dispensaries sell pot-infused candy, coffee, marinara sauce and hummus, along with cookbooks and kitchen gadgets.

Horwitz opened Ganja in 2009 as a sit-down restaurant where customers noshed on pot cheesecake and passed joints around the dinner table. Four months after opening, Denver passed a law prohibiting public consumption of marijuana, forcing Ganja to morph into a takeout eatery.

Eating vs. smoking marijuana is a personal preference, but each has its pros and cons that extend beyond the social benefits.

Edible highs offer stronger, longer relief to those who turn to pot to ease the nausea of chemotherapy, agitation of Alzheimer’s and excruciating back pain.

“When you eat marijuana, the effects last longer. . . . If you smoke it, you have a spike in the effect that goes away quickly,” said Chris Conrad, author of the book “Hemp for Health.” The San Francisco Bay-area author has also been appointed as a medical-cannabis expert by state and federal courts in California.

If eaten in the right dose, marijuana-infused foods help patients avoid Grateful Dead-strength stupors that make ordinary tasks difficult. Unlike the fast-hitting high of smoking, edibles take about 40 minutes to take hold and last from six to eight hours.

Conrad said eating marijuana is not always the best option.

“When you smoke it, it goes directly into your bloodstream, versus eating it and going through the digestive tract,” he said. “Everybody reacts differently depending on their eating cycle.”

For example, if a person eats a full meal and then eats marijuana, it may take an hour or more to feel the effect, not a good thing if they’re using medicinal marijuana to sleep.

If baking is a science, infusing foods with pot ranks as a superscience. Measure wrong, and instead of simply ending up with a rubbery pie crust or rock-hard frosting, dispensary bakers could face criminal charges.

State law allows patients with a medical-marijuana certificate to have up to 2.5 ounces a month.

Officials will be on the lookout for patients nibbling on pizza and cupcakes past the legal limit, said Carol Vack of the Arizona Department of Health Services. A statewide registry will track dosages.

“Every ounce will be measured and accounted for, whether it’s in marijuana to smoke or cookies to eat for dessert,” said Allan Sobol, spokesman for Arizona Dispensary University in Phoenix, a one-stop school serving the medical-marijuana industry with classes on growing to cooking.

For chefs like Herb Seidel of California, cookbook author and lecturer on the medical-marijuana conference circuit, the challenge of edible cuisine is creating foods that taste as good as they medicate.

“I use what I learned as a restaurant chef, with what I learned smoking pot to help me cope with the aches and pains of standing for hours in the kitchen, to create foods the home cook will really, really like,” said the former restaurant chef.

His repertoire includes dishes such as oysters Italiano, grilled shrimp with tequila salsa, portobello-mushroom pizza and fresh-peach cobbler.

Marijuana, unlike basil and tarragon, can be a tricky herb. More specifically, the medicinal properties of the herb disappear if cooked too hot and too long.

“You need the right temperature, the right flavors and the right dose to take the edge off pain, but not enough to knock you out for 18 hours,” said Seidel, who bills himself as Cannabis Chef and sells a four-pack video marijuana-cooking tutorial on his cookwithherb.com website.

Despite culinary advances, smoking bests eating as the medical-delivery system of choice. Experts credit the “make love not war” generation of pot smokers, saying those who smoked pot in their youth for fun are likely to smoke as adults for medicine.

“Edibles are a niche,” said Judy Spillman, manager of Arizona Passionate Alternatives, a Tempe clinic that plans to specialize in providing medical-marijuana prescriptions.

“But it’s a niche that is only going to grow because eating marijuana is a healthy, efficient, odorless and less stigmatized way to medicate.”

Signatures To Fight Marijuana Dispensary Regulations Due Today

THE GREEN CROSS

Signatures To Fight Marijuana Dispensary Regulations Due Today

Friday Is Petition Signature Deadline To Fight Medical Marijuana Collective Regulations

SAN DIEGO — Friday is the deadline for opponents of recently passed regulations of medical marijuana dispensaries to turn in petition signatures they have been collecting to force the City Council to decide whether to repeal, or put the issue to a public vote.The zoning and public safety ordinances, passed on April 12, confine dispensaries to light industrial and commercial zones in the city of San Diego, at least 600 feet from residences, schools and other sensitive areas.Operators are required to get a conditional use permit, which could take thousands of dollars and as long as two years to obtain.

Opponents called the regulations a de-facto ban on marijuana collectives, allowed under state law by Proposition 215, which voters passed 15 years ago.More than 31,000 valid signatures are required to force the City Council to decide whether it wants to repeal the regulations or put a referendum on an election ballot.The California Cannabis Coalition, which is leading the signature drive, reportedly had collected more than 40,000 signatures by last weekend.

3 Pro Marijuana bills introduced in Congress today

Rep. Barney Frank D-Mass

Three bills designed to limit federal intervention in state medical marijuana industries were introduced in Congress with bi-partisan support today.

The States’ Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act, authored by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., would make individuals and entities immune from federal prosecution in legal medical marijuana states, according to a joint statement released by the sponsors of these bills today. The bill also directs the Obama administration to move marijuana to a schedule other than Schedules I or II under the Controlled Substances Act.

Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., introduced the Small Business Banking Improvement Act, which would ensure that state-certified marijuana businesses are entitled to full banking services by amending the Bank Secrecy Act.

And dispensaries would be allowed to take the same business deductions as other legal businesses under the Small Business Tax Equity Act, introduced by Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif. Currently, Section 280E in the Internal Revenue Code does not allow businesses engaged in trafficking Schedule I or II drugs to take tax deductions. Dispensaries have been facing audits, and at least one dispensary in California has received a tax bill.

The tax act is co-sponsored by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., and Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, as well as Frank and Polis.

“It is time to get the federal government out of state criminal matters, so states can determine sensible drug policy for themselves,” said Paul in the statement. “It is quite obvious the federal war on drugs is a disaster. Respect for states’ rights means that different policies can be tried in different states and we can see which are the most successful.”

The news was immediately celebrated by industry advocates.

“All of these bills will have a positive effect on hundreds of thousands of Americans and only a negligible impact to the rest of the country,” said Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access, in the statement. “This kind of policy shift is a no-brainer and should garner the bipartisan support of Congress.”

Advocates File Lawsuit Demanding Federal Government Assess Medical Value Of Cannabis

DEA LOGO

A coalition of public interest advocacy groups filed suit today in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to compel the Obama administration to respond to a nine-year-old petition to reclassify marijuana under federal law.

The suit was filed by attorneys Joe Elford of Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and Michael Kennedy of the NORML Legal Committee on behalf of the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis (CRC). The Coalition, which includes NORML and California NORML, filed a comprehensive rescheduling petition with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on October 9, 2002 challenging marijuana’s Schedule I classification as a controlled substance with “no currently accepted medical use” and a “high potential for abuse.” The agency formally accepted the petition for filing on April 3, 2003, and per the provisions of the United States Controlled Substances Act (CSA) referred the petition to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in July 2004 for a full scientific and medical evaluation.

To date, the federal government has not publicly responded to the petition.

Today’s lawsuit petitions the Court for a writ of mandamus “directing the DEA and the Attorney General to issue a full and final determination on petitioners’ Petition to reschedule marijuana, or, alternatively, state whether it will initiate rulemaking proceedings, within 60 days.”

It states: “The DEA’s delay here of more than eight years since the rescheduling Petition was filed — and more than four years since it received HHS’ binding evaluation and recommendations — is inexcusable. … [T]his agency delay in acting on the rescheduling Petition is unreasonable, requiring this Court to intervene.”

Under the CSA, the Attorney General has the authority to reschedule a drug if he finds that it does not meet the criteria for the schedule to which it has been assigned. The Attorney General has delegated this authority to the Administrator of the DEA, presently Michelle Leonhart.

The 2002 CRC petition seeks to reschedule cannabis from its Schedule I designation to a less restrictive class under the CSA “on the grounds that: (1) marijuana does have accepted medical uses in the United States; (2) it is safe for use under medical supervision and has an abuse potential lower than Schedule I and II drugs; and (3) it has a dependence liability that is also lower than Schedule I or II drugs.”

NORML filed a similar rescheduling petition with the DEA in 1972, but was not granted a federal hearing on the issue until 1986. In 1988, DEA Administrative Law Judge Francis Young ruled that marijuana did not meet the legal criteria of a Schedule I prohibited drug and should be reclassified. Then-DEA Administrator John Lawn rejected Young’s determination, a decision the D.C. Court of Appeals eventually affirmed in 1994.

A subsequent petition was filed by former NORML Director in 1995, but was rejected by the DEA in 2001.

Happy 73rd Birthday MAN!, Tommy Chong!

Tommy Chong "Happy Birthday Man!"

In honor of Tommy Chong’s 73rd birthday today, we’ve compiled a bonanza of links. Along with Willie Nelson, Chong is the most beloved (and oldest) Top CelebStoner. “Seventy-three years old!” he says. “Not bad for a stoner, eh?”

Up in Smoke
Still Smokin’
The I Chong
Top CelebStoner
Dave’s Not Here
Free Marc Emery!
Up in Smoke Trailer
Lords of the Revolution
a/k/a Tommy Chong’ Trailer
Tommy: I Smoke Constatntly
Tommy on Fox: That’s a Lie!
Cheech & Chong on Jimmy Fallon
Cheech & Chong on Lopez Tonight
Cheech & Chong on The Simpsons
Cheech & Chong’s Hey Watch This
Tommy @ Cypress Hill SmokeOut
Tommy @ the Spring Gathering