The most recent medical cannabis numbers out of Utah (at the time of this writing in March 2023) were just released by the state’s Department of Agriculture and Food. They are impressive, to say the least. But there is something more important the data demonstrates. The millions of dollars generated by medical cannabis in Utah in 2022 say something very important to the rest of the nation.
Utah isn’t alone, by the way. Every state with legal cannabis is seeing phenomenal sales. States with both medical and recreational programs or obviously doing better. But even in highly conservative Utah, hundreds of millions of dollars in sales is nothing to sneeze at. Every dollar in retail sales boosts the state’s economy and adds to its tax receipts.
Tens of Thousands of Users
The medical cannabis industry in Utah generated sales of $118.7 million in 2022. That is nearly 60% more than the $74.8 million generated the year before. But the good news doesn’t stop there.
Medical cannabis sales have steadily increased every year since Utah first implemented their program. So have the number of registered users. As of January 2023, just over 63,600 patients were registered with the state as active cannabis card holders. The total number of card holders in the state jumped 51% between 2021 and 2022.
Finally, estimates suggest that the industry could generate sales of up to $165 million in 2023. That is on the high side. But even on the low side, projections are in the neighborhood of $135 million. For a state as conservative as Utah, the numbers truly are impressive. The rest of the country should take notice.
Not the Last to Fall
When California, Washington, and Oregon first opened the door to medical cannabis back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, no one could have imagined how many states would actually approve medical cannabis. Moreover, it was just assumed that Utah would be one of the last to fall. Guess what? Utah legalized medical cannabis some four years ago.
Not only was Utah not the last state to fall, but there are also still a number of states that haven’t yet gotten on board the medical cannabis train. You would be hard pressed to prove that any of them are more politically conservative then the Beehive State. That is why recent sales numbers out of Utah are so impressive.
Utahns clearly want access to medical cannabis. They proved it when they passed the cannabis proposition years ago. They continue to prove it by applying for medical cannabis cards and purchasing products at state-licensed pharmacies, including Provo’s Deseret Wellness. Here is what it means to the rest of the country: medical cannabis is here to stay.
The Genie Is Out of the Lamp
The proverbial genie is out of the lamp in the cannabis arena. More than three-dozen states have medical cannabis programs in place. The number of states with recreational marijuana is fast approaching two-dozen. Trying to turn the clock back now would work about as well as Prohibition did a hundred years ago.
Deseret Wellness does a brisk business in Utah because patients want and need medical cannabis. Likewise for pharmacies all over the country. If medical cannabis continues to do so well in a conservative state like Utah, it is going to continue doing well nationwide. That’s the lesson here.
It’s time for Washington to recognize reality and either reschedule or decriminalized cannabis. Rescheduling is a nice compromise that allows for nationwide medical cannabis without opening the door to complete decriminalization. One way or the other though, it is time to face reality. Medical cannabis is mainstream.