Colorado poised to surpass 3,000 active marijuana business licenses in the first half of 2017

December 08, 2016


Marijuana market report prepared by DU professor Paul Seaborn

A new market report by University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business Assistant Professor Paul Seaborn finds that active marijuana business licenses in Colorado have 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.

Paul Seaborn

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,” says Seaborn. “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 and there is uncertainty over incoming federal government’s position on marijuana legalization.”

The report finds that while the majority (54 percent) of active licenses are for medical marijuana businesses, the two fastest-growing license categories over the last year have been Retail Marijuana Products Manufacturing and Retail Marijuana Cultivation. The report also finds that the City and County of Denver has over one-third of the active marijuana licenses in the state, followed by Colorado Springs, Boulder and Pueblo.

Another finding which the author finds particularly notable is 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,” Seaborn says. “More consolidation should be expected given that this represents only about 2 percent of total active licenses in the state.”

The Colorado Marijuana Market Report will be a quarterly publication by Seaborn analyzing the data from the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) and other sources.