This week, the DC Medical Marijuana Program surpassed 4,000 registered patients (4,026 to be exact). This is a tremendous achievement, considering just one year ago there were 771 registrants, and two years ago exactly the program had just launched.
If you had asked me last summer how big I thought the program would be, my answer would have been half of the current headcount, and that was my optimistic view.
Let’s highlight the biggest drivers for this 400% growth over the past year:
In August 2014, the Mayor signs legislation that waives the short-list of qualifying conditions and transfers authority to physicians to determine who needs cannabis.
A ground swell of general awareness picks up in DC, ignited by the promotional activities of the dispensaries, participating physicians, local word of mouth, the decriminalization of cannabis possession in small amounts, as well as the attention garnered throughout the campaign and eventual passing of Initiative 71 in November 2014.
Plant count increases for each cultivation center gave way to expanded product varieties: additional strains, edibles, beverages, concentrates, tinctures, and more. This continues to fuel patient interest, as well as give attractive options for ingestion beyond traditional smoking.
The DC Department of Health introduces an electronic application for prospective patients, thereby eliminating a purely paper process and driving a more efficient applicant turnaround time.
Growing to 10,000+
Less than 1% of the DC population is subscribed to its medical marijuana program. It’s reasonable to think we’ve barely tapped the population of the near 660,000 residents. Many new enrollees will tell you they had no idea the program existed, which underscores that the education efforts are merely scratching the surface.
If the DOH can manage the application volume; if the physicians can manage the patient intake; if the cultivation centers can tackle the supply demands; if the dispensaries can scale; expect to see 10,000+ registrants within the next 12 months.
We’ll save for another day the impact commercial regulation/legalization would have.