From an estimated total impact on the U.S. economy in 2016 of $14 billion to $17 billion, the cannabis industry’s impact will grow to an estimated $44 billion by 2020. Sales from dispensaries and stores will account for $11 billion of the 2020 total, while the remainder represents the ripple effects of cannabis legalization either for medicinal or recreational use.
Sales of cannabis products are estimated to total $3.5 billion to $4.3 billion this year, up by 17% to 26% compared with estimated 2015 sales. Marijuana products sold for recreational purposes could outsell medicinal marijuana as soon as 2018.
The data were published Monday by Marijuana Business Daily in the 2016 Marijuana Business Factbook. Estimates are based on sales of medical and recreational marijuana at the retail level, including flower, infused products and concentrates. For each dollar spent at retail, the Factbook estimates that the economic benefit realized amounts to an additional three dollars.
Chris Walsh, managing editor of Marijuana Business Daily, said:
The projections reflect marijuana’s march towards the mainstream as it emerges from the shadows to become a respectable, above-board industry that is giving birth to scores of jobs, fostering new business opportunities and creating a broad ripple effect across the country. We’re witnessing the emergence of a business that is about to become a massive economic force.
These estimates are quite conservative compared with those published in February by New Frontier and Arcview. In that report legal retail sales in 2020 are forecast to rise to $21.8 billion. Adding in the knock-on effects of $3 for every $1 of legal sales raises the total economic impact of the cannabis industry to nearly $88 billion.
Marijuana is current legal for medical or recreational and medical use in 23 states and the District of Columbia. Ballot measures in California, Nevada and Massachusetts could make recreational use of cannabis legal in those states, while Ohio and Florida are looking at legalizing medical marijuana.
Vermont, however, is the best bet to be the next state to legalize recreational marijuana use. A bill cleared the Vermont state senate in late February and is currently being reviewed by the House. Governor Peter Shumlin has indicated that he will sign the bill if it makes it to his desk.