Recreational Marijuana might be hurting Medical Marijuana

There are now multiple states with recreational and medical marijuana. How is recreational marijuana impacting the medical marijuana community? The number of recreational users is on the rise.  Meanwhile, in states with recreational marijuana, medical marijuana users are dropping. We look to a report by GreenWave Advisors for answers.

So far, the report shows medical marijuana patient numbers dropping in states with recreational marijuana. Some people think this is because people were falsely reporting medical conditions just to obtain weed. For example, someone could claim chronic pain and fake until the doctor recommends medical marijuana. It’s worth noting, chronic pain is the most common qualifying condition.

Furthermore, when retail marijuana becomes available it’s the number of chronic pain patients that declines the most. According to the analysts’ report, patient counts dropped in Oregon, Colorado, and Washington D.C. States like Washington don’t even count their patients so we don’t know if numbers dropped there.

Arizona has recreational marijuana on it’s November ballot. There’s already a decrease in the number of medical marijuana cardholder applications. The number dropped a whole 73% in May. GreenWave believes that it is “in anticipation of a favorable election outcome for recreational use.”

With laws that take away medical marijuana users right to bear arms, it’s no wonder people would rather wait on recreational marijuana. The pain of applying and paying fees to get pretty much the same weed you could get at a recreational location could have lowered the number of applicants as well.

GreenWave also believes that as long as cannabis remains a schedule 1 drug, doctors will be hesitant to recommend it to patients. This isn’t helping the already decreasing number of medical marijuana patients.

The report also predicted that states would begin to combine the regulation of the recreational and medical marijuana markets. The report explicitly states, “Redundancy in oversight and enforcement mechanisms will be recognized as costly and confusing.”

Fortunately, the report doesn’t believe this is the end for the medical marijuana market. If marijuana becomes rescheduled doctors will become more involved with the medical market. GreenWave believes this will lead to a revival of the medical market. In fact, many doctors in states where it is legal still refuse to recommend marijuana due to its federal status.

The way the markets work in states with both medicinal and recreational marijuana is raising questions. There is no substantial difference between recreational and medicinal marijuana. However, the two are being sold for different prices in different markets. In states like Arizona that have a 15% tax rate on recreational marijuana and a 6.6% tax rate on medicinal might not see as much of a decrease in their medical marijuana communities.

Similarly, Colorado hasn’t seen a huge decrease in medical marijuana sales. In CO medical marijuana is only taxed at 2.9 percent. While recreational marijuana is taxed at a whopping 27.9 percent. People in states like Colorado and Arizona might still have the incentive to fake chronic pain. It’s nice that patients who need marijuana don’t get taxed too hard but that might change if GreenWaves predictions come true. Then, the two markets would merge and everyone would be paying the same prices for the same product.

Photo: katherine_hitt/Flickr

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