Colorado’s Department of Revenue says medical marijuana sales are continuing to drop.
Experts are worried about people with health conditions having access to the treatment they need. They say patients are paying more in taxes for similar products at recreational facilities.
“This is the lowest they've been since the legalization of recreational. I'm very worried,” said Truman Bradley.
Worried is an understatement for Truman Bradley, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group, a trade association in Colorado that provides support for marijuana-related businesses. He believes in safe access to clean products for all Coloradans and its visitors.
According to the Colorado Department of Revenue, medical marijuana sales in the state in June 2022 were $19.2 million, down from $34.5 million in June 2021 — a 44% drop. Bradley believes the industry is suffering for a number of reasons.
“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,” he said.
Bradley says this is making some patients resort to buying recreational marijuana, which costs more due to the higher tax base and pushes some medical marijuana businesses to shut their doors. Buddy Boy dispensaries and Mile High Green Cross closed their locations over the last few months.
The City of Denver says it’s seen a decline in people applying for a medical marijuana license over the last five years, citing similar reasons.
“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, spokesman for Denver Excise and Licenses.
Statistics from Denver’s annual marijuana report show the city had 731 actively licensed marijuana businesses in January 2014. There are currently 433 actively licensed marijuana businesses as of January 2022.
“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,” said Escudero.
Bradley says the recreational industry is also taking a hit.
“Recreational sales are a significant portion of the tax revenue, but recreational sales are down 20% as well. There's a real attack on the industry,” said Bradley.
Bradley says things like inflation and rising taxes are contributing to that. He’s hopeful the industry will make an upward trend before things get worse.
Denver7 reached out to the Colorado Medical Enforcement Division, which regulates the medical and retail marijuana industries in the state, to see what they have to say about the decline in medical sales and if there's anything that can be done to stop the decline from happening. A spokesperson said the division does not have anything to contribute at this time.