Legal Cannabis Sales Dip Sharply in Colorado

The decline in medical cannabis sales is a concern, experts say.

Sales of both medical and recreational cannabis in Colorado plummeted in June compared to the previous year, the state’s Department of Revenue reported, an alarming decline that industry officials attribute to a variety of reasons.

Medical marijuana sales totaled $19,235,656 in June—down from $34,534,293 in June 2021. Recreational pot sales, meanwhile, generated $127,157,358 in June—down from $152,719,813 in June 2021.

The decline in medical cannabis sales has been especially concerning to certain members of the industry.

Truman Bradley, executive director of the Colorado-based trade association the Marijuana Industry Group, said that the medical cannabis sales are “the lowest they’ve been since the legalization of recreational [cannabis]” in 2012, and that he’s “very concerned.”

Bradley told local news station The Denver Channel that the drop in sales is down to a number of factors.

“On the medical side, some very strict purchase limits came in, you know, for pharmaceuticals. Patients can get up to a one-month supply. But for medical cannabis, their daily purchase limits for folks who are immunocompromised or disabled, this is a real problem,” Bradley told the station.

The station reports that experts are “worried about people with health conditions having access to the treatment they need,” saying that “patients are paying more in taxes for similar products at recreational facilities.”

Others believe that the decline in medical cannabis sales is simply a result of patients bypassing the tedious application process to obtain a prescription in favor of the more accessible recreational marijuana products.

“We think it might be just people don’t want to go through the hassle of getting their medical marijuana card. They’d rather just walk down the street and go to a recreational dispensary,” said Eric Escudero, a spokesman for the city of Denver’s Department of Excise & Licenses and Office of Marijuana Policy, as quoted by the Denver Channel.

“I think what some people are really wondering is if there’s an oversaturation of the marijuana market in Denver. We have a lot of stores, whether it be medical or recreational,” Escudero added.

But Denver, Colorado’s largest city and the state capital, also “says it’s seen a decline in people applying for a medical marijuana license over the last five years,” according to the Denver Channel.

It has been a similar story in another western state, Arizona, where medical cannabis sales have also been dropping.

Citing figures from the Arizona Department of Revenue, the AZ Mirror reported last month that “sales of medical cannabis dipped to slightly less than $45 million in May, their lowest total since January 2021, when adults were first allowed to purchase marijuana for recreational use.”

The difference in Arizona, however, has been the ongoing strength of the new recreational cannabis industry.

According to the AZ Mirror, “initial estimates from tax collectors peg recreational sales at $76.5 million [for the month of May], the fifth time adult-use sales surpassed the $70 million mark.”

“Medical cannabis sales dropped precipitously for the seventh month in a row to slightly less than $45 million in May, only the second time in the past year medical sales dropped below the $50 million mark,” the AZ Mirror reported. “Preliminary numbers for June indicate $33.7 million in medical sales with recreational sales already on pace to hit another record, with $66.4 million reported so far.”

Last year was the first year that recreational cannabis sales were legal in the Grand Canyon State, and medical cannabis sales were greater throughout 2021 than recreational.

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