Chart: Arizona’s medical marijuana market marches forward in 2019 with more patients, higher sales

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Continual, steady growth has characterized Arizona’s medical marijuana market for the past few years, and 2019 was no exception.

Arizona’s MMJ program added nearly 34,000 patients to its rolls over the course of the year – an 18% increase over 2018.

The percentage of medical marijuana patients as a portion of the state’s population now stands at 3%, one of the highest in the nation.

Medical cannabis sales grew right alongside patient counts, with dispensaries moving a record 166,000 pounds of MMJ throughout 2019. That represents a 34% increase from the 124,000 pounds of medical marijuana sold in Arizona in 2018.

Here’s what you need to know about the situation:

  • A young, mostly male patient base forms the foundation of Arizona’s thriving MMJ program. Patients 18-30 years old account for more than a quarter of all registered MMJ patients in the state, and nearly 50% of all patients are younger than 40. Approximately 60% of Arizona’s MMJ patients are male.
  • 90% of the medical marijuana patients in Arizona are using MMJ to treat chronic pain. Chronic pain is the most oft-cited condition treated by MMJ patients in nearly every state where it’s allowed, but the numbers are especially high in Arizona.
  • Arizona has licensed only 130 dispensaries to serve its large, growing market. Large, multistate operators took notice in 2019, as many made deals to enter or expand their reach in Arizona. This includes 4Front Holdings, Vireo Health, Harvest Health & Recreation, and Cresco Labs.
  • A ballot initiative to legalize adult-use cannabis in Arizona will likely go before voters in 2020, a potential game-changer for both existing businesses in the state and prospective entrepreneurs eyeing new opportunities. A ballot initiative to legalize recreational cannabis in Arizona was narrowly defeated in 2016.

Eli McVey can be reached at