Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) has accepted 136 applications for licenses to operate recreational marijuana retail shops since the process began in October, representing about a quarter of those eligible to apply.
Under the law, only existing medical marijuana businesses can vie for licenses until next fall.
Colorado currently has 517 MMJ dispensaries, so at this point almost 400 are planning to stick with medical.
A fewer percentage of cultivation and infused-products businesses plan to make the jump to adult-use. The division has accepted 174 applications for recreational cultivation licenses (23% of those registered in the medical program) to date and 28 for infused products businesses (20%).
The numbers are somewhat surprising, as conventional wisdom says most businesses would want to tap a larger market.
But the cost of licensing has persuaded some businesses to stay away. Many also are simply waiting to see how much business will flock to the recreational shops compared to the medical dispensaries, while some want to see how the first wave of adult-use companies fare before branching out.
Additionally, some business owners are wary of the recreational market and prefer to continue treating patients with medical marijuana, even if the customer base is smaller.
The division will make final decisions on the October applications by the end of the year, meaning the first licensed recreational shops could open on Jan. 1.