Will Medical Marijuana Users Drop with Broader Legalization?

Now that it is legal for adults 21 years and older to buy and possess marijuana, it begs the question “Will medical marijuana users simply drop their cards and switch to recreational marijuana?” That has not happened yet, according to a Denver Post Q&A. But it is probably too early to tell what the long-term impact will be.

We do know that the number of registered marijuana users increased since marijuana was legalized for everyone over 21 in Colorado. According the state, there were 116,287 listed on the medical marijuana registry as of September 2014, up from 107,666 in September of 2012.

Several reasons could be responsible to the apparent decision not to switch. First, not all cities allow recreational marijuana sales. For example, Colorado Springs and Englewood have banned recreational pot shops. Difficulty obtaining non-medical marijuana will keep patients going to their regular dispensaries. Recreational marijuana is subject to steep sales and excise taxes over and above sales tax. Medical marijuana is exempt. It is also legal to possess up to two ounces of medical marijuana, twice the recreational limit. Medical marijuana card holders will also have the added incentive of lower registry fees if the State moves forward.

There are slightly more than 100 children who carry medical marijuana cards, especially now that there is a non-psychoactive marijuana extract that parents say greatly reduces their children’s seizures. They don’t have a legal alternative so they would not switch to recreational pot nor do they want the associated high that comes with it.
Medical marijuana dispensaries have also been staying the course. They have the option of completely converting to recreational sales. In most cases, the medical dispensaries are maintaining their existing business and if they choose, simply adding a recreational side to the business, which is legal provided they keep a physical separation of the two businesses and maintain separate books.

Denver Post online http://www.denverpost.com/marijuana/ci_24823785/colorado-marijuana-guide-64-answers-commonly-asked-questions
Colorado.gov https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/sites/default/files/CHED_MMJ_09_2014_%20MMR_report_0.pdf