Report suggests recreational cannabis is outshining the medical cannabis market

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

An annual government report released by the State of Colorado has spotlighted how recreational cannabis sales are surpassing medical sales. 

According to Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED), a total of 288,292 pounds of weed was sold in the recreational market in 2018, while just 147,863 was sold to patients who were enrolled in Colorado’s medical cannabis industry.

If we compare the figures to data released by the MED in 2017, the most recently recorded sales for Colorado’s cannabis industry are a substantial increase. The adult-use market sold 238,149 pounds in 2017, whereas the state’s medical cannabis market sold 172,994 pounds of pot to patients.

From July-December 2018, 75 percent of cannabis plants cultivated in Colorado were grown for the recreational market, which surpassed $1 billion in revenue since 2014.

Recreational sales twice as much as medical cannabis sales in Colorado

The MED’s figures indicate that recreational sales were twice as much as medical cannabis sales in the Democratic-leaning state last year, where the plant was legalized with the passing of Colorado Amendment 64 in 2012.

In 2016, sales of recreational cannabis and adult-use cannabis were fairly even. However, in 2017, approximately 56 percent of Colorado’s cannabis sales came from the adult-use market. The following year, recreational sales accounted for 66 percent of the total market. This data tells us that the recreational-medical gap inflated 73 percent within the space of a year.

Colorado’s legal cannabis market has progressed in leaps and bounds since the first pot shops opened their doors statewide back in 2014. MED data tells us that 411,143 pounds of weed was sold in 2017 and by the following year, the amount of cannabis sold from the entire market climbed to 436,155 pounds.

Number of medical cannabis card holders has plummeted 19 percent since 2014

During the first year of recreational cannabis sales in Colorado, just 38,660 pounds’ worth of sales came from the recreational market, while an impressive 109,578 pounds was sold to Coloradans in possession of a patient card.

Nonetheless, the recreational market is dominating; in addition to the rise in recreational cannabis sales in Colorado, the MED has revealed how the number of cannabis business licenses also increased. 

Adult-use cannabis business licenses rose three percent between 2017 and 2018, with a total of 47 licenses being obtained last year. Medical cannabis business licenses, on the other hand, dropped eight percent in 2018, with 77 licenses being distributed among applicants.

Medical and recreational cannabis consumers are seeking out concentrates

The MED’s annual government report has shed some light on consumer buying preferences; Colorado’s cannabis consumers love concentrates. In fact, sales of concentrated forms of cannabis almost doubled between 2017 and 2018. 

This is true for both recreational and medical cannabis consumers. However, the adult-use cannabis market seems to be the to-go place to buy some of the most popular concentrates, such as wax, oil, shatter and budder.

Recreational consumers also favor edibles, with MED’s annual report on Colorado’s cannabis market demonstrating how 86 percent of edible sales came from the adult-use market.

Thanks to the rise of legal weed in Colorado, the state has managed to reap $1 billion in cannabis tax revenue since the market initially blossomed. This money benefits a range of social programs, including public school funds