Cannabiz Media has been tracking cannabis licenses since 2015, and periodically, we share insights from tracking 30,000+ licenses. A key metric in any industry revolves around points of distribution – or how many places are available to sell product. The team researched active adult use (retailer) and medicinal (dispensary) licenses and tracked the changes month by month. The following analysis shows the growth these licenses have experienced on a year-to-date basis.

In the graph below, we show the change in the number of active medicinal and recreational licenses nationwide. There’s been a gentle growth curve with an upward trend.  The number of licenses issued has grown 25% since the start of the year from 2,590 to 3,229.  Keep in mind that these numbers include stores that may have both a medicinal and an adult license.

Growth in Active Dispensary and Retailer Licenses 2017-YTD

Data: December 31, 2017 – September 30, 2018

The growth in dispensaries and retailers came from California, Colorado, Florida, and Oregon – they accounted for 544 or 85% of the added licenses so far this year. Not surprisingly three of these states have active adult use markets.

Dispensaries Retail Licenses Added by State

Data: December 31, 2017 – September 30, 2018

The biggest impact has been California as the state accounted for 52% of the almost 639 new licenses nationwide. However, this growth has slowed as the California regulators no longer require license holders to get separate medicinal and adult-use licenses. This eases the expense and complexity for license holders and lessens the number of licenses the regulators need to track.

This regulatory change enacted in May has decreased the active retailer licenses in California so there will soon be a 1:1 relationship between storefront and license. Cannabiz Media has identified the number of “retired” licenses in California – as the temporary license holders have come up for renewal, one of their licenses is retired and the other lives on. We estimate that 282 California Temporary Adult and Medicinal Retail licenses have been merged.

California Dispensary License Growth YTD 2018

Data: December 31, 2017 – September 30, 2018

Observations from Other States

Cannabiz Media categorizes state markets into four categories including Volatile, Active, Stable and In Process. Volatile states generate lots of licenses on an unpredictable schedule like California, Oregon or Florida. Active states like Colorado issue licenses periodically. Stable states go long intervals in awarding licenses and tend to be medical markets like Connecticut, New York, Maine or Vermont. In Process states are still constructing their programs and have not issued licenses yet.

This data is displayed in the infographic below where the states below in dark green show the greatest increase in licenses.

Active Marijuana Dispensaries and Retailers Infographic

Cannabiz Media will be updating this infographic periodically to help you understand the changing cannabis economy. Future updates will include more detail on applied and pending licenses. Subscribe to the Cannabiz Media Newsletter so you don’t miss anything.

Want to see more data and details? Schedule a free demo of the Cannabiz Media License Database.

Ed Keating is a co-founder of Cannabiz Media and oversees our data research and government relations efforts. He has spent his whole career working with and advising information companies in the compliance space. Ed has overseen complex multijurisdictional product lines in the securities, corporate, UCC, safety, environmental and human resource markets and focuses on workflow products. Ed has spent the last twenty five years in the information industry.  During that time he has worked for both startup and established information companies where he has led marketing, product management and sales organizations.  These companies include Wolters Kluwer/Commerce Clearing House, CT Corporation, EDGAR Online and Business & Legal Reports. At Cannabiz Media Ed enjoys the challenge of working with regulators across the country as he and his team gather corporate, financial, and license information to track the people, products and businesses in the cannabis economy. Ed graduated from Hamilton College and received his MBA from the Kellogg School at Northwestern University.  He has been active with the Software & Information Industry Association for his whole career and managed the Content Division for six years.  He’s was recently a Trustee at the Country School in Madison CT and a Little League Coach for seven years.