The final numbers for 2016 will soon be released by the Colorado Department of Revenue; in the meantime, we did a deep dive into stats from the Marijuana Enforcement Division for the first six months of last year, and they reflect what we already knew: Cannabis cultivation and sales are on the rise.
Between January and June of 2016, Colorado issued 9,098 more medical licenses and 6,935 more retail licenses. In all, 16,033 licenses were added; that total covers retail and medical stores, cultivation facilities, product-manufacturing facilities and testing facilities. Retail manufacturing facilities alone rose by 15 percent from 2015.
There were nearly 4.7 million marijuana plants officially cultivated in Colorado during the first six months of 2016. Denver County accounted for at least 60 percent of that total, with 2,878,391 plants. Boulder came in second with a count of 387,310. On average, there were 225,917 more plants cultivated each month throughout the state than in the first six months of 2015.
Increases were not enjoyed across the state, however, as more jurisdictions limited the number and/or locations of licenses awarded to marijuana businesses, or banned cannabis altogether. In the first six months of 2016, 219 Colorado jurisdictions banned medical and retail marijuana outright; seventeen banned medical marijuana licenses, and nine banned retail marijuana licenses.
Flower was more popular with medical patients in the first half of last year. Medicinal sales topped 80,721 pounds between January and June. During that same time period, 73,064 pounds were sold recreationally.
Recreational users favored edibles: The retail market for edibles was nearly triple that of medical, with 1,082,932 medical sales and 3,275,341 recreational sales. With those higher numbers, the state also saw the largest jump in licenses for medical infused-product manufacturers — a 16 percent increase.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.