Cannacurio #90: 2023 Yearly Round-Up

2023 was a unique year for cannabis licensing. The industry contraction continued with license counts dropping, fewer new licenses being issued, and Oklahoma’s moratorium finally taking effect. Here are some key figures comparing 2023 with past years.

Key Findings

  • 5,132 new licenses were issued for cultivation, manufacturers, and stores in 2023, down from 9,853 in 2022
  • Oklahoma has stopped issuing new licenses and is regulating existing licenses heavily
  • There were 39,291 active licenses at year-end, down 7% from 2022

Cultivation licenses accounted for 46% of 2023’s new licenses, down from 58% in 2022. Stores were 36% of new licenses up from 28%; and new manufacturing licenses were 18%, slightly up from 14% in 2022. Given the moratoriums, oversupply, and sentiment surveys we have conducted, none of this is a surprise.

Here is the Leaderboard by state for 2023 with Michigan taking the crown:


Cannabiz Media divides the US into the following regions: Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Southwest, and West. In 2022, 72% of the new licenses issued came from the Southwest and West.  Oklahoma and California, respectively, were the drivers in those regions. The following graph contrasts 2022 and 2023, and the Northeast, Midwest, and Southeast were relatively stable year-over-year.


One final point on Oklahoma, the data from the Cannabiz Media Intelligence platform shows total licenses shrinking in the state and the impact of almost no new licenses after February 2023. A key dynamic shows up in the graph below that highlights the high number of licenses issued in January and February – they represent the last gasp of the Oklahoma license machine. The state issued 830 of the 1,441 licenses issued nationwide (58%). For the next ten months, Oklahoma was only responsible for 116 of the 3,691 licenses issued (3%)!


Four states accounted for 75% of the 2,345 new grow licenses in 2023: Michigan, California, Oklahoma and Vermont. However, the new grow licenses are a fraction of those issued in 2021 and 2022.  


Manufacturing licenses held steady from 2022 to 2023. Our recent post shows the total number licensed and active changed by about 20 licenses year-over-year.


The number of stores or doors is a key cannabis metric. The chart below shows the growth of both stores and licenses in the last twelve months. What is interesting is to compare these numbers against the other places where people can buy CBD and vapes. For example, there are over 10,000 establishments in Florida licensed to sell CBD, and New York has over 8,000 licensed vape sellers. This creates a lot of choices for consumers who probably don’t know or care about the license status of a particular establishment.


As we said at the top, 2023 was a challenging year for licensing and 2024 will present a whole new slate of issues:

  • New Hampshire – The governor proposed modeling the state’s program on their liquor model – which sells through state-owned stores.
  • Georgia – The state authorized independent pharmacies to be able to sell low-THC oil to patients. The FDA was not amused.
  • New York – The country has been expecting many more licenses than have been issued, and the governor has signaled her displeasure – might we see some changes at the Commission?
  • Virginia – Members of both chambers of the Virginia legislature approved competing measures to legalize and regulate the retail sale of cannabis. Adult sales likely won’t start until 2025.

Other key launches include Maryland social equity licenses as well as many hundreds of licenses in New York. Cannabiz Media will continue to track these initiatives and any others that occur.  We will be back in April to share what happened in Q1 2024.

For a visual on all of this information, check out the 2023 Year-End Licensing Leaderboard Recap post here.


Ed Keating is a co-founder of Cannabiz Media and oversees the company’s data research and government relations efforts. He has spent his career working with and advising information companies in the compliance space. Ed has managed product, marketing, and sales while overseeing complex multi-jurisdictional product lines in the securities, corporate, UCC, safety, environmental, and human resource markets.  

At Cannabiz Media, Ed enjoys the challenge of working with regulators across the globe as he and his team gather corporate, financial, and license information to track the people, products, and businesses in the cannabis economy.  

Ed graduated from Hamilton College and received his MBA from the Kellogg School at Northwestern University

Cannabiz Media customers can stay up-to-date on these and other new licenses through our newsletters, alerts, and reports modules. Subscribe to our newsletter to receive these weekly reports delivered to your inbox. Or you can schedule a demo for more information on how to access the Cannabis Market Intelligence Platform yourself to dive further into this data.

Cannacurio is a weekly column from Cannabiz Media featuring insights from the most comprehensive cannabis market intelligence platform. Catch up on Cannacurio posts and podcasts for the latest updates and intel.

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