“ 'I don’t think that anybody had an idea as to the number of patients that Utah was going to see this early. … I think we’re exceeding all of the studies that we had on the number of patients,' said Cody James [manager of the Utah Dep't of Agriculture’s Industrial Hemp and Medical Cannabis Program].
Utah voters approved a ballot initiative in November 2018 legalizing doctor-approved marijuana treatment for certain health conditions. State lawmakers the next month replaced the measure with a law they say puts tighter controls on the production, distribution and use of the drug. Utah’s Medical Cannabis Act then went through multiple changes in subsequent legislative sessions before the program launched this March.
Now, 10,000 active medical cannabis patients have received medical marijuana cards — a number state officials said they didn’t expect to reach until one year into the program, said Richard Oborn, director of the Center for Medical Cannabis."
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Actually somebody – many somebodies, including us – predicted multiples of 10,000 patients this long after Prop 2 passed, which called for many more and more conveniently sited dispensaries, and allowing homegrow in areas too far from the nearest outlet.
Despite an intense and expensive campaign against the measure, and the fact that proponents did not run a single radio or TV ad in favor (long story, another time perhaps), well over half a million people turned out to vote for the proposition in an off year election.
Our own internal estimates have always been that even with the Prop 2 condition list (somewhat more expansive than the replacement bill's) along the lines of up to 100,000 Utahns who would qualify as medicinal cannabis patients within two or three years of passage.
So while we are glad for all progress, and this is a small milestone, with hopefully more halting steps down the road based on the current pace, nonetheless we're going to save breaking out our confetti and noise makers for the moment, and remain the voice supporting restoring the reforms the people enacted years ago.
And actually it's time consider even broader reforms than Prop 2 called for now that the program has clearly shown that all of the dire predictions about problems it would supposedly cause were as ridiculous as we and medical experts said at the time.
There are no sound reasons for cannabis medicine to be nearly as scarce and expensive as the state's approach is currently making it.
Six months after medical marijuana became legal for purchase inside Utah for the first time, the program has already surpassed enrollment projections.