Report: Medical Cannabis Consumption Up by 610% Since 2016

Report: Medical Cannabis Consumption Up by 610% Since 2016?

If you have been following Medical Cannabis in Utah since Proposition 2 legalized it in the Beehive State, you know that state lawmakers vastly underestimated the total number of patients who would apply for Medical Cannabis Cards. Given a recent report showing a dramatic rise in Medical Cannabis consumption nationwide, we are forced to wonder if lawmakers in other states made similar mistakes.

The report in question shows an unbelievable 610% increase in Medical Cannabis consumption since 2016. That is incredible no matter how you look at it. Most industries would give an arm and a leg to see 30-40% growth. A rate of 610% is pretty much unheard of.

More About the Report

The report comes from the federal government following joint research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), in concert with the University of Michigan. Researchers looked at data from 39 jurisdictions including 38 states and the District of Columbia.

An estimated 678,000 people used state-legal Medical Cannabis in 2016. By 2020, the number had grown to an estimated 3+ million. More than 4 million Medical Cannabis Card holders were reported in 2023.

Here in Utah,  the latest monthly report shows more than 83,000 patients with active Medical Cannabis Cards. Way back in 2019, lawmakers were estimating fewer than 10,000 total patients. We have certainly blown by that number.

Greater Cultural Acceptance

So what has led to such a remarkable increase in Medical Cannabis use over the last eight years? One of the things CDC and VA researchers point to is cultural acceptance. As public opinion about Medical Cannabis has shifted demonstrably to the positive side, there is less of a stigma associated with using cannabis-derived medications.

Remove some of that stigma and people living in states with legalized Medical Cannabis are more likely to ask their medical providers about it. However, we think there is more to it than that. Cultural acceptance certainly has played a role, but we believe a more important factor has been education.

A Lot of People Still Don’t Know

As an organization that operates multiple clinics throughout the state of Utah, we work with a lot of patients looking for help with chronic pain, PTSD, medication management, and other issues. One thing we can tell you is that there are still a lot of people who do not know about Medical Cannabis and its role in treating certain conditions. We do our best to educate.

From our perspective, it seems as though education is a never-ending project. And yet, the more Utah residents learn about Medical Cannabis, the larger our program becomes. Thousands of people are being added to the roles of active Medical Cannabis Card holders every month. We firmly believe education is driving increased enrollment.

Chronic Pain and PTSD

The latest numbers from the state show that chronic pain is still by far the main condition for which Medical Cannabis is utilized in our state. Among the approximately 83k card holders are more than 65k chronic pain patients. PTSD is the second most cited condition with just over 17k patients reporting it on their applications. Nausea, cancer, and epilepsy round out the top five.

We are confident saying that Medical Cannabis is not going away at this point. It has become mainstream medicine despite ongoing conflicts between federal and state law. If you are still not sure, ask yourself how many other industries have grown by 610% over the last eight years. We don’t know of very many that even come close.

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Published May 7, 2024

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