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Colorado Cannabis Dispensary Counter: Growth From 2014 to 2018

A dual-use dispensary sells both medical and retail pot products, but must have a separate license for each.EXPAND
A dual-use dispensary sells both medical and retail pot products, but must have a separate license for each.
Scott Lentz
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As we move into our fifth year of retail marijuana sales, it's virtually impossible to ignore the boom in dispensaries around Colorado. Although certain "dry" areas don't allow marijuana sales — Amendment 64 gave municipalities the right to choose which types of pot businesses to allow, or whether to ban them altogether within their jurisdictions — much of the state signed on for the green rush and hasn't looked back.

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.)

Medical and recreational sales must take place from separate points-of-sale in Colorado dispensaries.EXPAND
Medical and recreational sales must take place from separate points-of-sale in Colorado dispensaries.
Scott Lentz

Marijuana Licenses, by the Numbers:

Retail dispensaries in Colorado
2014: 147
2018: 509

Retail cultivations
2014: 192
2018: 720

Retail infused-product manufacturers (edibles, hash, etc.)
2014: 33
2018: 279

Medical dispensaries
2014: 313
2018: 505

Medical cultivations
2014: 712
2018: 752

Medical infused product manufacturers
2014: 127
2018: 252

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