Marijuana sales margins tilted toward ‘recreational’ pot in Colorado in 2017, new data shows

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DENVER – The margin between overall sales of adult-use marijuana and medical marijuana grew steadily through 2017 in Colorado, according to new data from the state’s Marijuana Enforcement Division released Friday.

The margin between overall sales of marijuana flower between the adult-use industry (a new term used by the MED this year in lieu of “retail”) and the medical industry went from 24 percent in January to 44 percent in December.

There were also discrepancies between the adult-use and medical industries in the amounts of edibles and concentrates sold in 2017. Medical edible sales were down 14 percent between January and December, while adult-use edible sales jumped 29 percent over that time period.

And the margin between concentrates sold at adult-use shops versus at medical shops was 477 percent over the year.

Overall in Colorado in 2017, there were 11 million units of edibles sold, 1 million units of nonedible infused products sold, and 28,000 pounds of concentrate – amounting to 4.5 million units.

The number of new marijuana business licenses and number of renewals also shows a booming adult-use side of the state’s marijuana business.

Adult-use licenses made up 77 percent of new business licenses in 2017. And while occupational licenses also increased by 20 percent, only 32 percent of those with licenses set to be renewed did so last year.

Adult-use business licenses increased by 167 from January to December, while the number of medical establishment licenses fell by 38 for a net gain of 129 business or establishment licenses last year.

The number of plants grown in Colorado also grew last year from 2016: There was an average of 14.6 percent growth and 121,000 more plants cultivated per month in 2017 than in 2016.

Denver still saw the largest number of plants grown, but its statewide share of plants fell from 62 percent in January to 57 percent in December. The number of plants cultivated in Pueblo County between January and August exploded, increasing by 154 percent over those eight months.

The MED’s data shows that retailers did a better job in 2017 than the year before of checking IDs and not selling to people under age 21. Retailers passed 95.1 percent of non-qualified sales checks, an increase from 94 percent in 2016.

But despite retailers getting better about not selling to underage clients, MED Director Jim Burack said there was still work to do.

“While we’re pleased that the percentage of licensees passing underage compliance checks increased from 2016, that number still isn’t good enough,” he said. “We’ll continue to increase the frequency of our enforcement efforts and further educate marijuana licensees on their operation requirements vital to protecting public health and safety.”

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