michigan medical marijuana town hall
Medical Marijuana Policy

Michigan Medical Marijuana Patient Numbers Spike

michigan medical marijuana town hallWe have new numbers on the growth of Michigan’s medical marijuana patient population- sort of.

According to Crain’s Detroit Business, a respected local magazine, the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs reports an increase in the number of medical marijuana patients registered with the state.

“Currently, the state logs 178,629 active, registered medical marijuana patients,” per the Crain’s report. In 2013 that number was 118, 368; in 2012 the patient population was reported to be 114,694.

LARA has not posted the annual reports from fiscal year 2015, which ended on September 30, 2015, so there is no state document to refer to. The annual reports are required by the language of the MMMA; those reports detail geographic information, patient/caregiver numbers, fiscal data on the Medical Marihuana Program and the nature of the illnesses reported to the state by those patients’ certifying doctors.

In 2014, the number of patients was 96,408 per LARA, a number that was often cited but was highly inaccurate. Michigan instituted a 2-year registry program which meant many people did not have to register in 2014. 2015’s number should have an accurate tally, when LARA issues the data.

A strong indicator of true patient strength in the state can be seen from the ratio of new/renewing patients. In 2012, the last year with accurate data, new patients were only 45% of the cardholders in the state. In 2013, that number flip-flopped to 69%; in 2014, the ratio was 81% new patients. The 2015 data should see the numbers return to 2012 ratios, with patient renewals outpacing new patients.

The format in which LARA presents MMP data keeps changing. In 2012, the data was represented by a simple group of numbers representing how many patients were suffering from which illness. In 2013 they changed that format, and again in 2014.

Crain’s reports a new statistic in their article: number of patients served by a caregiver. Never before has this been published by LARA or referenced in media reports.  From Crain’s:

“The number of active, registered patients with registered caregivers is 68,834 compared with 52,406 in August 2012. Patients using medical marijuana can have a registered caregiver, but it is not required.

The registered caregiver numbers in the last three years went from 27,132 to 33,264.”

In 2014, LARA changed the reporting format to represent patient illnesses not as number of real patients, but a s a percentage of the entire registry database. In 2013, the illness reporting changed; administrators decided to report only a single illness for each patient, were previous tallies counted all illnesses reported by physicians for patients, even when there were multiple ailments reported for a single individual.

In 2012 the statistical reporting was published in October; in 2013, it was published on October 10; in 2014 the report was issued on November 12. The 2015 report is expected to be issued any day now; when LARA chooses to post it to their website is another matter altogether.

When the new report is posted by LARA, it should appear on their website at the following location:

www.michigan.gov/lara/0,4601,7-154-72600-358865-,00.html

Source: The Compassion Chronicles