Americans spent more money on legal weed last year than chocolate and craft beer combined after major changes to marijuana laws, a new report has revealed.
Tapped at $30billion by cannabis website MJBizDaily, the monetary measure of legal marijuana sales increased by more than $12million from the year before, when only Washington and Colorado were allowed to shill the smelly stuff.
Since then, another 20 states have followed their western counterparts’ example, allowing licensed retailers to sell the drug recreationally – though federal regulators remain split on a more widespread decriminalization.
As these dispensaries continue to surface across the county, the legal cannabis industry has benefited, seeing its market evaluation swell in the past year – a trend authors say is poised to grow in coming years.
In the meantime, the total amount spent by Americans on marijuana products has surpassed sums spent on painkillers and even the confectionary, which draw in $22.8 billion and 18.2billion respectively.
To measure the industry’s worth, MJBizDaily consulted with economists and analyzed several databases – ultimately coming to the conclusion that by 2024, the amount spent on legal weed should increase by another $3.6billion.
By 2028, the firm expects marijuana sales to approach $57billion – a marker that will see it surpass currently waning big tobacco, an industry that drew in $52.7billion from US residents this past year. That comes despite tobacco being legal nationwide, while recreational pot is only allowed in less than half of the country.
The growth outpaces that of steady earner chocolate, which, by the end of 2026, is expected to reach $26billion, according to a recent report from the New York Post.
Moreover, these are just the legal numbers for cannabis, the report repeatedly points out – with the true sum spent annually by pot-smoking Americans likely standing at up to three-times the amount calculated by MJBizDaily.
And as more citizens ditch dealers for increasingly available retailers, the gap between cannabis and other commodities, like craft beer, which only drew in $7.9billion in 2022 per Business Insider, will only continue to lengthen.
The paper remarked about the literal cash crop’s increasing prominence in the US states where it is now legal, after older measures only estimated cannabis’s illicit American gains.
‘Marijuana businesses encompass a range of agricultural, manufacturing and retail operators as well as non-plant-touch ancillary companies such as lighting suppliers and law and accounting firms.
‘Some markets also include cannabis events and hospitality businesses, which tend to have an even higher economic impact than other industries.’
The group added that ‘the marijuana industry has a large impact on the broader economy, both locally and across the nation.’
‘That impact,’ the firm said, ‘comes directly from the day-to-day needs of workers in the cannabis industry, including spending on life’s necessities such as housing, transportation, entertainment and more.
‘Taxes collected from cannabis businesses and consumers play a role, too,’ the researchers also pointed out in regards to the plant’s prospective growth – no pun intended.
That said, in the interim, illicit sales still far outweigh legal ones, with Whitney Economics recently estimating that three-quarters of all marijuana sales in the United States still come in illegal, untaxed transactions.
However, since states like New York and New Jersey have signed off on recreational sales, cannabis use has rocketed by at least 20 percent in those states, a recent report from the University of Minnesota revealed.
In that study, researchers warned of ‘negative health and psychosocial outcomes’ of the drug that continue to surface as more Americans pick it up.
Lead researcher Stephanie Zellers called for more investigation into the ‘complex questions around the public health impacts of legalization’ and how greater cannabis use ‘translates to changes in health or behavioral consequences.’
These include weed-induced bouts of psychosis or cannabis hyperemesis syndrome (CHS), a little-known condition caused by long-term cannabis (marijuana) use.
People who have CHS experience recurring episodes of nausea, vomiting, dehydration and abdominal pain, with doctors largely unsure of a cause.
Meanwhile, experts say legalizing pot has led to a growing acceptance for the plant in recent years, leading many to try it for the first time.
Stress from the COVID-19 pandemic has also driven up the number of users, perhaps contributing to the increase seen since 2021 and 2022.
Meanwhile, marijuana is the most commonly used federally illegal drug in the United States. It is currently legal in 22 states, plus the District of Columbia. (Full Story)