Medical marijuana products available at Iowa dispensaries. (RI file photo)

New data shows slow but steady growth in the number of Iowans planning to buy products from Iowa’s medical cannabis dispensaries.

About half a percent of Iowans who are 21 years of age or older had a state registration card and could buy medical cannabis products at the five state licensed dispensaries in April. A doctor, physicians assistant or an advanced registered nurse practitioner has to recommend medical marijuana as treatment for an illness.

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, nearly 9,700 patients had state-issued cards in April. That’s a 36% increase since May of last year. About 2,600 Iowa caregivers have registered to buy cannabis products for someone who is too young or too ill to buy it for themselves. That’s a 26% increase in caregiver registrations from a year ago.

Some Iowans are driving to Illinois, where businesses opened in 2020 to sell recreational marijuana. Illinois law requires purchasers to be 21 and to consume the marijuana products at an Illinois residence.