Recreational Market Takes Toll on Medical Cannabis




Data compiled by MarijuanaBusiness Daily shows just how much participation in medical marijuana programs has declined in states that also have recreational cannabis markets. Colorado, Oregon, and Nevada have seen their medical marijuana markets undergo dramatic changes over the past few years, and the future of MMJ is anything but certain.

Of the three states, Colorado has fared the best. Since adult-use sales began in January 2014, patient counts have fallen 22 percent. And from 2014 to 2016, annual sales for medical cannabis actually increased each year before falling for the first time in 2017. So far in 2018, the downward trend has continued. Revenue fell 21 percent year-over-year to $165.8 million.

“Since April of 2017, we have observed negative year-over-year comps for medical marijuana sales. These results underscore our view that the overall Colorado marijuana market is at or near maturity and further substantiates our industry thesis that a rec market is disruptive to medical sales,” Green Wave Advisors founder and managing partner Matt Karnes told Benzinga.

In Nevada, MMJ patient counts are declining an average of 5 percent per month. Since recreational cannabis launched in October 2017, patient counts in the state have decreased 32 percent. In June, patient enrollment fell below 17,000 for the first time since March 2016.

Oregon has seen the steepest decline in their medical marijuana program. Since adult-use sales began in October 2015, patient counts have declined 42 percent. The number of registered medical marijuana patients was at an all-time high in October 2015, with 78,045 patients. In 2018, only 45,000 patients are registered under the medical marijuana program.

In addition to falling patient numbers, there are changing demographics in the patient base. In Colorado, the average age of a medical marijuana patient has increased from 41 in January 2014 to 44 as of June 2018. 22 percent of patients in Nevada are older than 65, up from 19 percent of patients in October 2017. The average age of patients in Oregon is up 6 percent from October 2015, with 19.4 percent of patients 65 or older.