Ask a Budtender: Tips for 4/20 Shopping
by Haley Hansen
Cannabis is becoming legal in more and more places, and that means the industry is spreading. Cannabis dispensaries are opening in every state where it is legal for them to do so.
It is challenging to keep track of which states have active dispensaries, for a number of reasons. For one thing, the cannabis industry is so new that many dispensaries are fledgling businesses, and that means they aren’t as secure as businesses that have been around for a while. It is normal for several new cannabis dispensaries to open—and go under—each year.
Cannabis dispensaries are a popular target for burglary since they are unable to complete transactions via credit card and therefore must carry a large amount of cash. In order to protect themselves from crime, many dispensaries are still struggling to find the most reliable way to get the word out about themselves. These details complicate the process when trying to get a count.
There’s also the fact that legalization is spreading. In the state of Illinois, for example, recreational marijuana just became legal in January of 2020. Since that time, several dispensaries have opened their doors within the state.
We can’t be sure of exact numbers since things are so constantly in flux. But we can get a rough outline of what the distribution of dispensaries looks like throughout the United States.
The state of Oregon has far and away more dispensaries than any other state. It boasts nearly 700 dispensaries, or 16.5 per 100,000 residents—plenty of locations for the people of Oregon to meet their cannabis needs.
Of course, it isn’t surprising to find Oregon at the top of the list. They were one of the very first states to legalize, with recreational marijuana becoming fully legal back in 2015. As such, their cannabis industry has had plenty of time to find its footing.
This logic tracks when one looks just a little further down the list. Colorado and Washington state became the first two states to legalize back in 2012. They rank at 4th and 6th, respectively, when it comes to the number of dispensaries in the state.
The states with the lowest number of dispensaries can point to another factor driving their numbers down. These tend to be the small New England states, such as Rhode Island and Delaware. While their cannabis industry will probably expand as legalization spreads, for now, the number of dispensaries in these places remains low.
Looking at the breakdown of dispensaries by city tells a bit of a different story. Missoula, Montana beats Oregon’s overall numbers, offering 18 dispensaries per 50,000 residents. Missoula is not a large city, clocking in at fewer than 100,000 residents overall. Montana, meanwhile, is a large state, and one where medical marijuana has been legal since 2004. The laws regarding cannabis have been relatively unchanging since then.
That indicates that the state of Montana has had the time and the capacity to establish a fairly stable cannabis industry, one that can serve the entire state well. The implication seems to be that Missoula is a popular place for Montana residents to go for their cannabis.
Whatever the case may be in your state, the cannabis industry is constantly on the grow, and you can expect the landscape to look very different within the next couple of years. In the meantime, you can do your part by researching dispensaries near you, finding your favorite, and making purchases to help them establish and maintain their business!
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