Comparing Colorado & Washington Cannabis Market Demand

Ryan Allway

July 11th, 2014

Policy, Top News

Colorado’s legal marijuana market may be much larger than previously thought, according to a new study released on July 9, 2014. Researchers believe that the greater demand stems from the disaggregation of marijuana user types and the fact that Colorado has a high prevalence of heavy users compared to the national average, as well as high usage rates among visitors to mountain towns.


The Marijuana Policy Group estimates the number of Coloradoans using marijuana to be about 687,000, or 17.4% of the 21+ population, when adjusted for under-reporting (a major concern in marijuana surveys). These figures compare to Washington State’s estimated 746,152 users, which represents is higher on an absolute basis and lower on a per capita basis than Colorado.

The total demand for cannabis is estimated to be roughly 29% less than the estimated demand by the RAND Corporation in Washington State, which is reasonable because Washington’s population was 33% larger than Colorado’s population as of 2012. Colorado demand is only 29% lower than Washington’s, again, because demand is higher in Colorado on a per capita basis.

Similar to Colorado, Washington’s top 20% of marijuana users consume over 80% of the demand. These heavy users consume some 1.3 to 1.9 grams per day, with a point estimate of 1.6 grams per day, making them by far the most significant part of the market. While there are no real differentiations between medical and recreational heavy users yet, most of the heavy users still have medical cards versus recreational.

Of course, there are also many uncertainties that remain within these reports. For instance, 17% of respondents from a Washington survey indicated that they obtained their marijuana from home production compared to just 4% for the national average. Similar rates could be in place within Colorado and other states have will adopt legalized home growing or caregiver growing.

In the end, the size of the marijuana market is likely much larger than many originally anticipated, but assessing that size continues to be a challenge.

Ryan Allway

About Ryan Allway

Mr. Allway has over a decade of experience in the financial markets as both a private investor and financial journalist. He has been actively involved in the cannabis industry since its inception, covering public and private companies.

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