The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection reports that the number of registered medical marijuana patients climbed 46 percent in only one year. In April 2017, 17,769 patients had registered with the state as medical marijuana patients.
One year later in April 2018, that number had shot up by almost 8,100 patients to 25,855. Growth in patients participating in the MMJ program averaged about three percent per month during that time period.
The state’s medical marijuana program began four years ago in 2014. About 2,000 patients enrolled during that first year.
The number of doctors participating in the Connecticut medical marijuana program has also risen. About a year ago, approximately 600 physicians had registered to be authorized to write MMJ recommendations. That number had gone up to 881 by May 4 of this year.
Connecticut’s MMJ Infrastructure Will Soon Be Growing
Connecticut’s medical marijuana program now has nine dispensaries licensed to serve the state. And last month, the Department of Consumer Protection closed an application period for an additional three to 10 licenses it will soon issue. The department has received a total of 73 applications vying for those licenses, according to reports in local media.
Catherine Binder is the chief of education and outreach at the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection. She that staff had been receiving boxes full of paperwork all day.
“We were slammed,” she said.
Binder also said that she had been receiving inquiries from people eager to learn about the applications and potential locations of the new dispensaries. However, she said the information was confidential when she was asked if it would be released to the public.
“There’s just no way we will do that,” Binder said. “It would really, really violate the integrity of the process.”
She also noted in an email to reporters that disclosing the data would expose the department to intense lobbying efforts.
“Municipal lobbyists are not the only ones who might have a stake in their town being home to a dispensary — we have already received a letter from a Mayor, encouraging us to choose the applicant who lives in their town (and no, I can’t tell you which Mayor!!). And conversely, there will be those who don’t want one in their town,” she wrote.
But even though the Department of Consumer Protection is adding more dispensaries, it has not yet released any plans to increase the number of cultivators licensed to grow cannabis for the state’s medical marijuana program. That has some patients worried about the potential of supply shortages and rising prices.
MMJ Program Has Strict Requirements
To participate in Connecticut’s medical marijuana program, a patient must first receive a recommendation from an authorized physician. Doctors can only recommend cannabis for patients who have one or more conditions specified by the state. Other states have a similar requirement.
The list currently includes cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity, epilepsy, cachexia, wasting syndrome, Crohn’s disease or post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the state MMJ website.