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Colorado Nearing 3,000 Active Marijuana Licenses

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Jon Stone

Media Relations Manager

Jon Stone

Theresa Ahrens

Madeline Phipps

DU professor analyzes data from the Marijuana Enforcement Division


A new market report by Assistant Professor Paul Seaborn of DU’s Daniels College of Business finds that active marijuana business licenses in Colorado hit an all-time high of 2,913 as of Dec. 1, 2016. Each state license issued by the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division grants the holder permission to operate a marijuana store, cultivation facility, manufacturing facility or testing facility at a specific location.

Asst. Prof. Paul Seaborn
Asst. Prof. Paul Seaborn

“When recreational marijuana was legalized in January 2014, there were 1,708 active licenses in Colorado, so the state has experienced a 70 percent increase in licenses in just under two years,” Seaborn says. “While the total number of active licenses should exceed 3,000 during 2017, the long-term outlook is unclear. Some areas of Colorado, such as Denver, have introduced caps on the number of licenses. Legalization in California and other states may impact Colorado. There is uncertainty over incoming federal government positions on marijuana legalization.”

The report finds that while the majority (54 percent) of active licenses are for medical marijuana businesses, two other license categories — retail marijuana products manufacturing and retail marijuana cultivation — have grown briskly over the last year. The report also finds that the City and County of Denver has more than one-third of the active marijuana licenses in the state, followed by Colorado Springs, Boulder and Pueblo.

Also notable, Seaborn says, is the fact that while consolidation has begun to occur in the Colorado marijuana industry, even the most prominent brands and operators hold only a small portion of the total licenses.

“With 62 active licenses, Native Roots currently has the largest number of marijuana licenses operating under a single name,” he says. “More consolidation should be expected given that this represents only about 2 percent of total active licenses in the state.”

Seaborn plans to issue the Colorado Marijuana Market Report on a quarterly basis. It will analyze data from the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) and other sources. Click to read the complete report.