In January 2015, the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) began releasing quarterly “statistical snapshots” of program statistics on their website that includes the number of patients registered from each state.
According to the third and most recent snapshot, dated July 2015 (pdf), there were 1,913 patients registered with both out of state addresses and ID cards of 72,517 total patients in the OMMP. Of this number, Wisconsin currently ranks in 5th place after Florida which has 52 in registered patients. Washington, California and Idaho, all states that directly border on Oregon and together account for 1382 of the 1913 out of state patients.
The July report says Wisconsin has 47 patients, 8 caregivers and 7 growers registered. Texas ranks 6th with 42. Pennsylvania is the next closest with 28, followed by Arizona at 27. Nevada has 24 and New York has 21. Utah is next at 20, North Carolina at 18 and Tennessee at 17.
With an estimated 2014 population of 5.758 million, Wisconsin’s high ranking against larger states like Florida’s 20 million or Texas’s 27 million says a lot about the determination of patients from the Badger state.
The April 2015 snapshot (pdf) has identical numbers of Wisconsin patients at 47, but in 4th place. Looking back to January 2015 (pdf), only 22 Wisconsin patients were registered. So in the 3 month period between January and April Wisconsin registrations more than doubled, and the state moved from 8th place overall to 4th.
How did it come to be that the Oregon’s medical marijuana program became the only state program accepting patients from all 50 states? An April 14, 2010 ruling by the Oregon Court Of Appeals in the case State v. Berringer, opened the OMMP to qualifying patients from anywhere in the United States. In Sept. 2010, Jacki Rickert and me, in Portland for the national NORML conference, were the first Wisconsin patients to register with the OMMP. It’s great to see so many more out of state patients nearly five years later.
It has been difficult to track these numbers until the statistical snapshots became available and the numbers of patients from individual states was included.
The value of patients having a note from a doctor regarding their medical use of cannabis, a valid order of a practitioner as it is defined under state law, has been repeatedly documented in Wisconsin. Court cases have been dismissed or never filed. Interactions with law enforcement have not resulted in arrest. These situations involved people with letters from their Wisconsin doctors, out of state medical cannabis cards or authorizations, or a combination of both.
Many people have suffered and died from serious ailments during Wisconsin’s decades long debate over passing state medical cannabis legislation. Many of these patients wanted to use cannabis. Others faced with this choice, often with the help of family or friends and in consultation with their health care providers, have made the decision that cannabis is a medical necessity. Registering with the OMMP is a path more and more patients are taking as they wait for Wisconsin to join with the half of US states where medical cannabis is now legal.
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