Colorado Has More Dispensaries Than Starbucks


While most North Americans are used to having coffee shops on every street corner, Colorado is the one state where, for three years now, you’d be more likely to see a cannabis dispensary than a Starbucks. That fact comes to us from a report put out by the Rocky Mountain High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA). It counted some 491 cannabis dispensaries, which is up to nine times the number of Starbucks outlets in Colorado. They’re so rampant that dispensaries even outnumber McDonald’s.


Just don’t drive yourself crazy trying to figure out “what does this all mean?”

  • Starbucks boasts beans from Latin American, East Africa, Asia, Jamaica, and Hawaii; dispensaries have strains from all of those regions, plus some.
  • A Starbucks beverages will all the bells and whistles can run you about $5; Colorado recreational mainstay, Green Dragon, offers $5 bud all day.
  • Starbucks gets you high; dispensaries get you a different kind of high.

Does any of this mean that Colorado likes weed more than coffee? Nope. You can get coffee just about anywhere there and the two substances go together splendidly, thank-you-very-much.

But the tidbit of information did bring eyes around to the far more meaty portions of the report.

Like how six percent of Coloradan adults use cannabis, but only half of them use it daily. (Starbucks, on the other hand, is a daily and sometimes twice-daily habit for some.)


And with nearly 500 dispensaries you might think that the black market for cannabis in Colorado is dead, but 2016 saw cops seize 3.5 tons of marijuana (most often heading to Illinois, Missouri, Texas, Kansas, and Florida). They intercepted an incredible 984 pounds from Colorado’s postal system too, a 914% increase in the past four years. RMHIDTA also presents sobering statistics about driving accidents: traffic deaths where marijuana was involved have risen from 53 in 2009-2012 to 88 post-legalization in 2013. Of that total, about 37 percent of the deaths included a driver who was solely stoned, no other intoxicant in their system.

While the RMHIDTA report isn’t all rainbows and puppy dogs, it should be noted that the organization’s mission is not to be kind to marijuana and illegal drugs. Forbes’ Jacob Sullum calls it, “indictments masquerading as objective assessments.” Even so, we feel that it’s always worthwhile to see through the lens of the opposition.

For reducing opiate abuse and generating millions of extra dollars annually, cannabis is still considered an overall success. Just as Starbucks founder, Howard Schultz, was “not losing any sleep over Dunkin’ Donuts” back in 2013, so should we not lose sleep over a possibly skewed report.

November 29, 2017

by Alana Armstrong

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Alana seeks to see cannabis from the perspective of politicians, advocates, entrepreneurs, and consumers. She got her start with a byline in the arts and culture section and crossed over into cannabis after using it medicinally. Current projects include investigations into cannabis and wellness; entrepreneurs of the Green Rush; cannabis for athletes; and the evolution of cannabis laws and culture in Canada.


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