Arizona Surpasses 50,000 Medical-Marijuana Patients

New statistics by the Arizona Department of Health Services show that Arizona now has more than 50,000 qualifying, adult patients.

As of June 30, the state had 52,638 "active cardholders," which is a 9.1 percent increase from the last official number published by the agency on March 28 of 48,231 patients.

See also: -Judge: Medical-Marijuana Patients Can Sell Pot to Other Patients Because Law is Vague

The recently released quarterly report also shows 93 minor patients and another 94 minors being treated by caregivers, which is a 34 percent increase over those same categories in the March 28 report. That increase could be due to a judge's ruling in late March that allows the use of concentrated marijuana, which can be used in pills or food items for youngsters with epilepsy or other serious ailments.

An additional group of people qualified to buy and possess marijuana in Arizona are the 502 caregivers and 1,231 dispensary agents.

Arizona voters approved the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act in November 2010, but the program got off to a slow start after Governor Jan Brewer refused to allow retail dispensaries to open. She was forced to relent in January 2012 when a judge told her to stop thwarting the voters' wishes. Yet the first dispensary in the state Arizona Organix, didn't open until that December.

Seventy-nine dispensaries were open as of June 2, according to another health services report, with two additional shops expected to be open by July 1.

Click here to read the whole report.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.