Chart of the Week: Arizona’s medical marijuana industry gaining steam

By Becky Olson

Business is booming for medical cannabis companies in Arizona.

Aside from a 33% surge in patient numbers during the first 10 months of the year, dispensaries are on pace to sell more than 586,000 ounces of marijuana in 2015 – an increase of over 80% from 2014, according to data from the state.

A March 2014 legal ruling that paved the way for the sale of cannabis oils and other concentrates, along with the addition of post-traumatic stress disorder to the qualifying condition list earlier this year, have helped fuel the growth.

The edibles market has also been gaining traction.

“Edibles are consistently a popular item with patients,” said Gina Berman, medical director for The Giving Tree Wellness Center in Arizona. “We are (also) seeing more edibles products on the market, and there continue to be edibles companies popping up.”

The increase in popularity and sales of edibles in particular is also simply attributable to more and higher quality connections between vendors and dispensaries, according to Peggy Noonan with Cornucopia Health and Wellness.

However, there have been some inconsistencies in how quantities of raw cannabis processed for concentrates and infused products in general translate into the final milligrams of THC reported on product labels and how that all gets reported in the state’s point-of-sale system. Noonan cautioned this is likely having a small impact on the detailed figures reported to the state for quantities used in those products.

That being said, other data and market indicators all still point to really solid growth in the state’s market, which is expected to see a total of $140 million to $160 million in total sales this year, according to the 2015 Marijuana Business Factbook, though the numbers could be higher given the rapid growth.

Business opportunities abound and will continue to for the foreseeable future in this large and rapidly growing western MMJ market. In addition, the strong possibility of a recreational cannabis measure appearing on the ballot next November also holds the promise of further increasing these opportunities in the state.

Becky Olson can be reached at