Medical Marijuana Users Become Legal: Nearly 600 People Approved, Mostly for Chronic Pain


Most people approved to use marijuana legally in Arizona complain of chronic pain related to back problems, severe headaches, injuries or arthritis, new stats show.

The Department of Health Services is keeping close track of nearly every facet of the program, and will also soon release the number of recommendations for medical weed that are being written by each physician. The names of the doctors won't be released, but the public will known whether physicians are recommending pot across the board, or if it's just a few adventurous doctors taking the plunge.

As of yesterday, 718 have applied to the DHS for medical marijuana cards, and 579 were approved. The latter, once they receive their cards in a few days, will be able to possess up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana, grow up to 12 plants (for now) and buy products from the marijuana dispensaries when they open this fall.

More than three-quarters of the applicants are men, and 20 percent of all applicants were between the ages of 18 and 30. (No one under 18 has applied.)

Chronic pain was listed as the qualifying condition in 85 percent of cases, though some patients reported multiple conditions. Six percent of applicants have cancer, while 1 percent have HIV or AIDS.

The DHS released info about which parts of the state the applicants were coming from -- you can click here for an Excel spreadsheet fileof that data. We found it somewhat interesting, (for instance, nearly 4 percent of all the applications came from Tempe -- but the applications seem well spread over the whole state, and nothing sticks out as a major trend.

In the meantime, we noticed that the Arizona Republic published something today about the federal stance on medical weed. We discussed this issue in a blog post from early February, but were interested to see in the Repub article that the U.S. Attorney's Office in Arizona plans to soon issue an opinion about Arizona's voter-approved medical pot program. We'd asked the U.S. Attorney's Office about that back in February, as our blog post notes, but the office never got back to us.

We're not too concerned that the federal government will shut down the program. As we've noted in the past, the feds are raking in millions of dollars in extra income tax on marijuana dispensaries.

Every bud sold provides a few dollars in taxes that we won't have to borrow from our children.