Mlive.com, Gus Burns, 9-13-2021: In July, Michigan marijuana sales reached a new peak when combined recreational and medical sales for the first time eclipsed a $2 billion-per-year pace.

Much has happened since the first recreational shops opened their doors in late 2019. Using monthly statistical reports released by the state Marijuana Regulatory Agency, as well as the agency’s online license search tool, MLive has pulled and compiled key data to show how the industry is growing and changing as it matures.

The state began licensing medical marijuana businesses in 2018, not long before Michigan voters would approve a ballot measure that legalized marijuana for personal, recreational use and mandated the creation of recreational business licenses. The first recreational-use sales occurred in December 2019.

With an initial requirement in place that any new recreationally licensed business also obtain a medical sales license — that requirement has since been discarded — both segments began to grow.

After the first month of recreational sales, the monthly combined sales reached $35.1 million, a figure that increased 387% to $171 million per month by July, the most recent month for which revenue figures are available.

New monthly sales records have been set consistently along the way. There was a total revenue lull between August 2020 and February 2021, a time when the coronavirus pandemic was at its peak, but new combined monthly records have still been set in 10 of 19 months since recreational sales went live. There have only been three months during which recreational sales didn’t set new monthly records.

It didn’t take long for monthly recreational sales to surpass medical sales. That happened for the first time in July 2020 with the gap widening further nearly every month since. Recreational sales in July represented 75% of the state’s total marijuana sales.

When commercial medical sales began, all customers were required to possess a medical patient or caregiver card. With the elimination of that requirement through the advent of recreational sales to anyone 21 or over, medical patient and caregiver registrants have declined. There were about 17,000 fewer caregivers and 6,000 fewer patients in July as there were in December 2019. Those are decreases of about 6.4% and 17%, respectively.

The market has become increasingly competitive and saturated with new retailers. As of September, 360 businesses had been licensed to sell recreational marijuana in the state. That’s more than double the 162 licensed businesses that existed in September 2020.

The amount of marijuana flower has also boomed. In March 2020, there was a total of 3,690 pounds of marijuana sold: 1,316 recreational and 2,374 medical. In July, the total number of marijuana flower sold equaled 24,389 pounds, 18,235, or 75% of which was recreational sales.

The competition, growth and reduction in medical customers has impacted flower prices to the benefit of consumers. In January 2020, recreational customers were paying $516.21 per ounce on average and medical customers $267.30

As of July, recreational marijuana cost an average $217.94 per ounce and medical $213.39 per ounce. Since January 2020, recreational flower prices dropped by nearly 58% and medical by 20%.