The Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) has published its 2019 Annual Update, providing licensing, sales, production, and product testing data for the entirety of last year. Interestingly, flower production expanded as purchasing declined, yet wholesale prices in the state increased, nonetheless. Some flower was undoubtedly directed toward extraction to manufacture concentrates and infused products. The former saw a significant increase in sales in 2019 compared to the year prior. Additional wholesale price data for Colorado – and other states – in 2019 can be found in our recently published 2019 Annual Chart Book.
Colorado’s legal cannabis market generally contracted in terms of the number of active licenses in 2019. The major exception was an increase in the number of adult-use retail licenses, from 549 at the end of 2018 to 572 at the end of 2019. The numbers of licenses active for adult-use product manufacturing facilities and testing labs were also up slightly in the same period. The number of adult-use cultivation licenses decreased to 684 at the end of 2019, down from 735 at the end of 2018. Medical cultivation licenses saw an even larger contraction, but as we have noted in prior reports this was due in part to multiple permits at single addresses being collapsed into single licenses as part of a rule change.
Despite both adult-use and medical cultivation licenses decreasing over the course of 2019, the number of total plants cultivated in both sectors of the market was up compared to 2018. Adult-use cultivation capacity was consistently higher in each month of 2019 compared to the same month the year prior. On the other hand, medical cultivation was down year-over-year through the first six months of 2019, but the number of plants grown by medical growers rose to over 300,000 monthly in the second half of 2019, a threshold that was not surpassed in all of 2018. By December 2019, Colorado cultivators were growing almost 1.08 million total plants at any given time, on average, up about 10% from the same point the previous year.
Along with increased numbers of plants being grown, production of flower, trim, and wet whole plants increased significantly in 2019, although nearly all the expansion took place on the adult-use side.