Arizonans legally smoked, ate or otherwise consumed nearly 83 tons of marijuana last year.
That’s nearly double the figure from two years ago.
It’s also the equivalent of about 331,400 eight-ounce bags of Cheetos. Looking at it another way, it’s more than 222 million joints, assuming a gram of the drug produces three joints.
The latest report from the state Department of Health Services has no financial figures, as any financial data from the state-regulated dispensaries is confidential.
But if an ounce of average weed goes for $200 -– and there’s a lot of variables there – it’s a half a billion dollars expended in 2019 on medical marijuana.
This is just the stuff state health officials know about, based on the reports it gets from the more than 100 legal dispensaries around the state.
The big unknown is how many medical marijuana patients are getting their drugs from other sources which may be more convenient or cheaper.
And none of this counts for those who are buying and using the drug illegally.
Other findings in the new report also show:
On average, more marijuana was sold on a daily basis in December than any other month;
Male patients outnumber females by a 3-to-2 comparison.
And if you divide up the number of legal medical marijuana patients by the amount of the drug sold in Arizona law year, the average user consumed more than an ounce a month.
Under a 2010 voter-approved law, patients with certain medical conditions and a doctor’s recommendation can obtain up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana every two weeks.
Those conditions range from cancer and glaucoma to AIDS and post-traumatic stress disorder. But by far the largest category of patients are those who complain of “chronic pain.’’
The most recent figures show there are close to 220,000 people who have cards allowing them to legally purchase the drug.
Health department figures also show the vast majority of what was purchased last year was the whole marijuana form, meaning the leaves and flowers, many can smoke or make it into a tea.
Only about 10 percent was in other forms, including edibles like candy bars and drinks, as well as pills and liquids.
The 2019 sales figures of nearly 166,000 pounds have once again set a new record. That compares with less than 122,000 pounds for 2018, 87,000 pounds for 2017 and about 58,600 pounds in 2016.
It was a 52 percent increase over 2015 sales which, in turn, were double the 2014 numbers.