The list of licensed recreational pot shops in Colorado was less than four pages long when sales began on January 1, 2014, according to the Marijuana Enforcement Division; today it runs nearly thirteen pages. Recreational cultivations have seen even larger growth, with that list of licensees going from five pages to nineteen.
The MED has a treasure trove of marijuana business data on its website, which lists every licensed pot business in the state, medical and recreational. The data shows slowing growth for medical businesses, with recreational dispensary licenses now outnumbering their medical counterparts. The number of recreational cultivation licenses has grown nearly 400 percent since 2014, while medical grow licenses have grown by barely more than 5 percent.
To quantify the contrast in growth between Colorado's retail and medical marijuana industries since recreational sales began, we counted the number of licenses on the MED website for dispensaries, cultivations or infused product manufacturers in 2014 and compared them to the number of licenses in 2018. (Note: Many medical and retail business licenses share the same location, meaning a dispensary, cultivation or infused-product manufacturer may hold a license for both medical and retail markets.)