Michigan Medical Marijuana Patients Drop in Numbers, Again
Posted by Marijuana Doctors on 02/01/2015 in Medical Marijuana Trends
According to recent state statistics, the state of Michigan is reporting a decline in the number of medical marijuana patients for the second year in a row.
In 2008 state voters of approved the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act, allowing qualifying patients to use marijuana medically. By the end of 2011, there were a total of 119,470 registered patients. By the end of 2013 however the numbers had begun to drop off, dipping down to 118.368 patients. Recent state statistics reveal 2014 to have dipped even further, down to only 96,408 patients, according to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. Thats a difference of 23,062 patients no longer enrolled in the state program, since 2013.
Evidence of this downward spiral is evident in Metro Detroit, where the number of registered patients decreased in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties, for the 3 consecutive year in a row. Macomb County saw a decline from 7,997 patients in 2013 down to 7,644 patients the end of 2014. According to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Macomb County has seen a decrease of 10% in program participation since 2011 when participation level was at 8.499. Oakland County saw a decline from 10,741 patients in 2013 down to 9,330 patients the end of 2014. According to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Oakland County has declined by 22% since 2011 when participation level was reported as 12,083. Wayne County saw a decline from 14,169 patients in 2013 down to 12,258 patients the end of 2014. According to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Wayne County has dropped by 20% since 2011 when participation level started off at 15,385.
Spokesperson for the Marijuana Policy Project, Morgan Fox, says that it is unclear as to why the numbers are dwindling, “The number of patients in Michigan has been fluctuating and it’s tough to say if there’s a direct cause.”
The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs declined to comment, saying only that “the agency does not speculate on why the number of patients is down”.
Fox however, believes that there may be numerous underlying factors contributing to the steady decline. He says that a key issue is the problem of patients not feeling that the state law protects them from prosecution. “A lot of these patients may have just given up on Michigan’s system and moved somewhere with a more robust law. And the issue of safe access in Michigan is still very much in the air, in terms of whether dispensaries are allowed and how they’re supposed to operate.”
President of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association, Michael Komorn, believes that the decline is also largely due to the inconsistent manner in which police and legal system continues to handle medical marijuana cases. Komorn says that this has been a determent for many concerned with facing possible legal repercussions, “People see expectations of the (state medical marijuana card) protecting them from being arrest are not being met. There’s been no incentive for people to register.”
Chairman of the Michigan Chapter of Americans For Safe Access, Jamie Lowell, agreed, “There’s very aggressive law enforcement against medical marijuana activity in some areas. In some places, it appears very difficult to use the protection and defenses the (Medical Marihauna Act) was intended to create and the cards don’t mean a whole lot to some people. They figure, why go through all the steps to get a card when it doesn’t appear to provide the type of protections it was intended to.”
Lowell also points out that in Michigan, medical marijuana cards are valid for 2 years, not one, which means that, “people reregistering the following year won’t show up (in the state’s reports).””Its disappointing to see a drop in numbers, however as Jamie Lowell, Chairman of the Michigan Chapter of Americans For Safe Access, points out, cards in Michigan are valid for 2 years, and the report number don’t account for those people in their second year of the card. Nonetheless the issue of police and legal prosecution is also a key reason as to why the patients in Michigan are weary of openly joining the program and being placed on the registry. Hopefully this will now become a problem of the past now that congress has officially ended the ban on medical marijuana, with the recent passing of the spending bill,” said MarijuanaDoctors.com CEO and founder, Jason Draizin. The New York-based company helps patients in each of the qualifying sates, find a marijuana doctor, online.