Patient demand for medical marijuana in Massachusetts has increased almost twelve-fold during the program’s first year.
Statistics from the Department of Public Health show that the number of registered patients went up from 1,423 in January of 2015 to 16,510 at the end of November.
The state’s first dispensary opened in June, more than two years after voters approved a medical marijuana ballot proposal. The opening of the dispensary, housed in a former Salem factory, was met with a long line of customers.
“I’m a law-abiding citizen, two kids, daycare provider, no criminal record,” said Wendy Atwood, of Salem. “So I feel like I’m a good example of someone who can use [cannabis] responsibly.”
Three more dispensaries have opened since June, and have had trouble keeping up with demand. However, analysts say 2015 was a year of slow growth: the expected mature market for medical marijuana in the state should comprise more than 150,000 patients. Kris Kane of 4Front Advisors says this market is still a few years away. Kane is currently working with companies that aim to open more than 20 shops in the state.
He expects demand for legal marijuana to increase as more shops open: many buyers are still risking the $100 possession fine and buying from illegal sources before shops open near them.
Photo Credit: Tim Sackton
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