Chart of the Week: Top 5 Medical Marijuana States by Patient Density

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By Jennifer Mann

If you want to get an idea of which medical marijuana states offer the best business opportunities, take a look at the density of MMJ patients relative to the population.

States with a higher concentration of patients often have thriving MMJ markets and offer a more welcoming climate for medical cannabis businesses. Additionally, analyzing patient data can give you an idea of the potential market size in new MMJ states.

Colorado and California have the highest density as measured by number of patients per 1,000 residents, at 22.3 and 19.9 respectively, according to estimates by Marijuana Business Media, official state data and the 2014 Marijuana Business Factbook. Oregon, Washington State and Michigan also rank within the top five by this measure.

These states come in above the average of about 10 patients per 1,000 residents – or roughly 1% of the population – in states that have had their MMJ programs up and running for at least a year.

Of course, patient density is just the beginning of the analysis process.

While California is a leader in this category, for instance, the lack of a well-regulated market makes it extremely volatile for businesses. Fees can also vary considerably, as can the level of competition and regulations.

Jennifer Mann can be reached at