While adult-use marijuana shops remain closed as non-essential businesses, the Cannabis Control Commission has seen a steady increase in the number of people registering as medical marijuana patients.

The CCC's medical marijuana program had 72,502 certified and active patients in April, up almost 14 percent from the 63,720 patients active in the program in March, Executive Director Shawn Collins said Thursday during a CCC virtual meeting.

"That is something we are still seeing a surge in, but it is also something that we've been able to meet the demand of and process as well," he said.

Since the pandemic began, the CCC has eased some of the requirements for becoming a medical marijuana patient, allowing new patients to become registered through a telehealth visit with a certifying physician rather than an in-person visit. That, combined with limited availability of legal marijuana, has contributed to a surge in patient registrations. From March 23 through April 1, the CCC received more than 1,300 new patient registrations. In the 10 days prior, it received 500 patient registrations.

Before being allowed to renew their medical marijuana card, any patient who initially becomes registered via telehealth will have to visit their certifying clinician in person. To respond to the increased demand in the medical market, the CCC has told certain non-medical growers that they can now transfer their crops to the medical supply chain.

Though the product is largely identical, the medical program offers benefits not available in the recreational market. Medical marijuana is not taxed, patients can get marijuana delivered to their homes, and patients can buy edibles with higher THC levels than are allowed in the non-medical market.