PHOENIX — Arizona’s nearly 88,000 medical marijuana patients smoke, ate or otherwise consumed more than 19 tons of the drug last year.
That’s the equivalent of six Scooby-Doo Mystery Machine vans or, if you prefer, nearly 77,000 8-ounce bags of Cheetos. Looking at it another way, it translates to more than 40 million joints, assuming the High Times estimate that a typical one weighs about four-tenths of a gram.
And if the average price for marijuana from state-regulated dispensaries is $300 an ounce, it means medical users spent more than $184 million last year acquiring the drug legally.
Other findings in a new report from the state Department of Health Services include:
- On average, more marijuana was sold on a daily basis in December than any other month;
- The biggest purchase day of the year appears to be New Year’s Eve, when sales amounted to more than 275 pounds;
- Male patients outnumber females by 2-to-1.
And on a per-capita basis, there are far more medical marijuana users in Yavapai County than anywhere else, with Yuma County at the other extreme. State laws preclude health officials from identifying sales from the 86 individual dispensaries around the state.
The disclosures come as the Marijuana Policy Project, which successfully got voters to enact the medical marijuana law in 2010, is now trying to open the door for legal recreational use.
It also comes as several legislators are trying to curb the ability of some patients to obtain the drug as well as who can write the legally necessary recommendations.
That 2010 law allows those with certain specified medical conditions and a doctor’s recommendation to obtain up to 2½ ounces of marijuana every two weeks. Those conditions include glaucoma, seizures, nausea as well as Alzheimer’s disease and post-traumatic stress disorder.
But the report shows that of some 30,000 people who have unique conditions — meaning just one from the list — more than 25,000 of these fall into the catch-all category of severe or chronic pain.
The 2015 sales numbers are nearly double what was purchased in 2014.
Health Department figures also show the vast majority of what was purchased was in whole marijuana form, meaning leaves and flowers that could be smoked or made into tea. Less than 10 percent of the sales were edibles, including candy bars and drinks.