Over 60 percent of patients registered for medical marijuana cards in Hawaii are over the age of 56, according to new data revealed by the Department of Health.

Scottina Malia Ruis, the agency’s medical marijuana registry coordinator, presented the information during the Hawaii Bar Association’s conference at the Hawaii Convention Center on Friday.

The high percentage of older patients “suggests that what we really have is a medicinal program,” Ruis said. “This is not a recreational program… and we intend it to have integrity.”

Ruis said this is the first time the Department of Health, which took over the medical cannabis program from the Department of Public Safety in January, has revealed data about the program that includes up to 13,000 patients.

Applicants to open dispensaries under Hawaii's new medical marijuana law are finding it tough to get legal advice, due to a new legal opinion saying they could be charged with violating professional ethics rules if they do.

New data from the Department of Health provides insight into who relies on medical cannabis in Hawaii.

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About 70 percent of the patients in the program are male and 30 percent are female.

Three-fourth list chronic pain as one of their qualifying conditions, and 14 percent rely on caregivers to grow marijuana for them.

Just 0.2% of patients — or up to 260 — are minors.

About 40 percent of the patients are on the Big Island; 24 percent are in Maui County; 23 percent are on Oahu and 13 percent are on Kauai.

The number of patients on Oahu is expected to increase once production centers and dispensaries open next July. Currently, patients using medical marijuana in Hawaii have to grow their own plants or ask a caregiver to do so for them.

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