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Thu Jul 17, 2014, 05:18 PM

Colorado 2014: 130 metric tons of cannabis [View all]

Last edited Thu Jul 17, 2014, 06:51 PM - Edit history (1)

The Marijuana Policy Group, in Colorado, released a report on the cannabis industry thus far, and projected for the 2014 year.

Who did this report: The Marijuana Policy Group (MPG), formed in 2014 as a collaborative effort between the University of Colorado Boulder Business Research Division and BBC Research & Consulting in Denver. Both entities have offered custom economic, market, financial and policy research and consulting services for over 40 years. (That's from the author page.)

The 130 metric tons of cannabis use for 2014 is rounded down from estimates for both Colorado residents and tourists and includes both recreational and medical use. The report states the numbers may be over or understated/reported and provide a range of 104 and 158 metric tons as the state demand for cannabis.

Colorado residents make up the bulk of the cannabis market in Colorado, obviously, since recreational and medical marijuana use is included and no tourist may obtain a medical cannabis card. The report claims that 9% of Coloradans use marijuana within any given month, or, rather, every month. That's 485k residents based upon population estimates for 2014.

Another 201k stated they used cannabis at least once a year, or 3.8%

For comparison, the national surveys on drug use (which are more inclusive - because the focus is on underage usage) estimate around 7% of Americans aged 12 and over consumed marijuana in 2011, with a slight increase in 2012. These surveys do not include any medical use because they do not acknowledge the same, and their focus is on tracking abuse, which is defined as simple use.

That translates to 18.9 million "used in the last month" users. Rates of marijuana use since 2010 to the latest report in 2012 have increased slightly. However, rates of increased marijuana use from 2007 to 2012 were more significant. During those same years, many states passed medical marijuana laws. The federal report does not indicate this change, however. In 2010, CA decriminalized marijuana possession, as well. The recent passage of medical marijuana laws in many states that limit THC content is also outside the range of data for the federal report.

From the federal survey:

About two thirds (62.8 percent) of illicit drug users used only marijuana in the past month.

Daily or almost daily use of marijuana (used on 20 or more days in the past month) increased from 5.1 million persons in 2007 to 7.6 million persons in 2012."

(Prevalence of Marijuana Use Among Youth in the US, 2012) "Annual marijuana prevalence peaked among 12th graders in 1979 at 51%, following a rise that began during the 1960s. Then use declined fairly steadily for 13 years, bottoming at 22% in 1992—a decline of more than half. The 1990s, however, saw a resurgence of use. After a considerable increase (one that actually began among 8th graders a year earlier than among 10th and 12th graders), annual prevalence rates peaked in 1996 at 8th grade and in 1997 at 10th and 12th grades. After these peak years, use declined among all three grades through 2006, 2007, or 2008; after the declines, there began an upturn in use in all three grades, lasting for three years in the lower grades and longer in grade 12. In 2011 and 2012 there was some decline in use in grade 8, with 10th and 12th grades leveling in 2012. In 2010 a significant increase in daily use occurred in all three grades, followed by a nonsignificant increase in 2011. In 2012 there were non-significant declines for daily use in the lower grades and a leveling at 12th grade with use reaching 1.1%, 3.5%, and 6.5% in grades 8, 10, and 12, respectively."


http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/Drug_Usage#sthash.WlLe0ME8.C4VKkz4A.dpbs

None of these figures match the rates of marijuana use in the 1970s and 1980s - which were at least double the current figures during those years. This rate matches the demographics for marijuana use in general in the 20th and 21st centuries (concentrated among ages 18-35 or so) with the baby boomer generation within those age ranges during those decades.

From the Colorado survey:

The vast majority of marijuana demand emanates from the regular users—and in particular from the heavy users who consume marijuana on a near-daily basis. In Colorado, the top 21.8 percent of users account for 66.9 percent of the demand. In contrast, the entire population of rare users (less than once per month), a group that accounts for almost one-third of all users, represents less than 1 percent (0.3 percent) of total demand.


Keep in mind, the Colorado survey includes medical marijuana suppliers/users, so daily use for palliative care would account for some of this daily use. Later in the survey, the authors note medical marijuana users account for 22.8% of all marijuana consumers in the state (p.6)

Colorado does not have Amsterdam style “coffee shops,” and it is illegal to consume marijuana in areas where most visitors may be, such as rental cars, hotels, and public spaces. Despite these restrictions, a significant share of retail sales appear to come from visitor purchases. Using a combination of sales tax receipt information, point-of-sale statistics, and data from county tourist offices, it is possible to impute visitor demand. For example, we estimate that purchases by out-of-state visitors currently represent about 44 percent of metro area retail sales and about 90 percent of retail sales in heavily visited mountain communities. Visitor demand is most prevalent in the state’s mountain counties, where combined medical and retail marijuana sales more than doubled after retail sales were legalized in January, 2014. In comparison, Front Range metropolitan combined sales only increased between 15 and 19 percent over the same period.

Visitor prevalence is reflected in retail sales (versus medical) because visitors do not have medical marijuana patient registry ID cards. Point-of-sale data confirm that out-of-state ID cards represented almost one-half of all new retail sales, whereas ongoing medical sales were exclusively to in-state residents.

This study finds total marijuana demand to be much larger than previously estimated. Our point estimate of demand is 121.4 tons per year for adult residents. This is 31 percent higher than a recent Department of Revenue assessment, 89 percent higher than a study by the Colorado Futures Center, and 111 percent higher than an older study by the Colorado Center for Law and Policy. The primary difference is caused by much heavier dosage amounts consumed by the state’s “heavy user” population – those who consume marijuana on a daily basis.


The Colorado survey notes the difference between federal figures and the state with survey data from the federal govt. that indicates daily use rates in Colorado are about 6 percentage points above the average nationwide estimates of 17% as daily consumers of cannabis.

The medical use of cannabis, however, has remained stable, in terms of registration, while recreational use is growing.

The literature on daily cannabis use from the federal govt. indicates daily users not only consume more frequently; their use of cannabis also increases.

This, imo, is most likely attributed to the presence of THC metabolites that remain in someone's system for days after consumption of cannabis. These metabolites are not psychoactive and, in fact, function to dampen the effect of THC.

It goes like this: Upon heating, THCA decarboxylates to THC - if this is done by smoke, the effect is immediate. If this is done by cooking/ingestion, the effect takes up to an hour - and the intoxication is different because, in the liver, delta-9-tetrahydracannabinol is metabolized into 11-hydroxy-tetrahydracannabinol (a metabolite), while smoking converts THCA into delta-9 and acts directly on the nervous system without liver metabolization - tho, immediately after smoking, THC, too, begins conversion to 11-THC as a metabolite in the bloodstream - which is noticeable an hour after, just as eaten cannabis takes about an hour to take effect. 11-THC is further broken down to the non-psychoactive 11-COOH-THC - which is the metabolite that stays in the body for days or weeks as it is slowly excreted - and this is the metabolite that identifies marijuana use in urine tests.

11-COOH-THC mediates the effects of THC itself - which is one possible explanation for differences in intoxication between heavy/long time users and those who use cannabis infrequently. The reason people feel higher if they use less often is because their body does not contain the metabolite 11-COOH-THC to dampen the effect of THC itself. This slow release (and dampening effect) is also why THC does not act upon people in the way something like heroin does. Physiologically, cannabis provides its own "weaning" - unlike drugs of addiction - while the psychological desire would have to do with the pleasure of the effect of THC, which would lend more frequent consumers to consumer more cannabis within a given time frame.

This may also explain why those who are heavier users of THC are better drivers than those who use cannabis infrequently from various studies. They aren't as high as infrequent users.

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