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Vermont MMJ Program Expecting Dramatic Patient Increase

Vermont medical marijuana dispensaries are preparing for a dramatic rise in customers after recent additions to the state’s list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis, Marijuana Business Daily reports.

Under a law signed by Gov. Peter Shumlin on June 6, glaucoma and chronic pain patients can now qualify for the state’s MMJ program, as well as hospice care patients.

Dispensaries are expecting their patient numbers to spike, but it remains unclear how dramatic of a change this will be. In other states where chronic pain is a qualifying condition for medical cannabis, medical marijuana programs can eventually grow to serve 1.5%-2% of the state’s population. For the Vermont system — where there are currently just over 2,700 patients registered — that could triple or even quadruple the current size of the market.

However, according to Jeffrey Wallin, director of the Vermont Crime Information Center, it’s impossible to predict precisely the increase in patient numbers. “It’s ultimately up to the doctors, because they’re the ones registering patients,” he said.

The new law also makes changes to other aspects of the program, such as lowering the required length of a doctor-patient relationship before medical marijuana can be recommended from six months to three. For hospice care patients, however, there is no length of time required for a doctor’s recommendation.

Furthermore, the changes include new rules for the detailed labeling of cannabis products, requires child-safe packaging, and allows the legal transfer of marijuana products to research labs.

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