Legal cannabis is one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States. At the rate the market is growing, cannabis is on pace to bypass global sales of smartphones. Researchers at cannabis Business Daily recently analyzed hundreds of cannabis retailers, dispensary owners, and other industry indicators and estimated the cannabis market at more than $10 billion for 2015, and $30 billion by 2019. They projected that every dollar of cannabis legally sold at retail adds another $2.60 to the economy in states with legalized cannabis. The multiplier effect is from a myriad of factors: cash expenditures by retailers themselves, growers, farm equipment companies, makers of infused products, manufacturers of machines for extracting and infusing, testing labs, staff salaries, packaging manufacturers, trucking and transportation companies, security, etc. As amazing as they are, however, 24/7 Wall St. considers the estimates by cannabis Business Daily to be far too conservative.

Both private investors and entrepreneurs are flocking to cannabis markets. Those who understand market dynamics will no doubt collect large rewards. As Washington (the state and D.C.), Colorado, Oregon, and Alaska have already implemented laws legalizing cannabis for discretionary use, they are obviously playing a significant role in the growth of the cannabis industry overall.

Uncle Sam: not too $mart with number$?

A 2007 study by Jon Gettman, Ph.D., Lost Taxes and Other Costs of Marijuana Laws, found cannabis to be an industry worth more than $110 billion annually, the prohibition of which costs U.S. taxpayers over $31 billion in tax revenues. Every year. (How many salaries for teachers, firefighters, paramedics, and police would that pay? Drug war profiteers apparently couldn’t care less.) The study also shows that nearly $11 billion could be saved each year simply by eliminating the one of every 18 arrests that takes place over a plant—one so beneficial that early settlers of the American colonies were required by law to grow it, and which lots of doctors now say is full of stuff that’s good for you. (Doctors…always encouraging us to eat our vegetables!)

Need for weed will not recede

This remarkable growth in the industry apparently coincides with a nationwide shift in the population’s attitude toward cannabis. For the first time in history, a Gallup poll has concluded that a significant majority (57%) of Americans feel the plant and its components should be legal for both medical and discretionary uses. People are increasingly exploring the health benefits of cannabis; children afflicted with cancer or epileptic seizures are especially ideal candidates for the herb’s therapeutic properties, which allow them to reduce or even eliminate their intake of pharmaceutical drugs with all their severely dangerous side effects.

According to High Times, “As many as 11 initiatives aimed at legalizing marijuana are expected to go before voters in the November 2016 election. Yet, the latest surveys reveal true majority support for only six proposals: Arizona, California, Nevada, Massachusetts, Michigan and Ohio. These states have the best shot at establishing the next taxed and regulated cannabis markets.”

Discretionary cannabis use was perfectly legal in this country until only about 80 years ago. The chart below projects the states most likely to re-legalize it (with heavy restrictions and penalties) by 2020:

adult-use-legislation
Chart appears in executive summary of Arcview Market Research’s Marijuana Markets Report, 3rd Edition.
Reports indicate that within the next five years, 18 states will legalize cannabis for adult recreational use. By 2018, the cannabis market is expected to generate an estimated $10.2 billion in annual sales. And with the added markets for ancillary products like cultivation tools and paraphernalia, the expansion of the industry will be even greater.

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