Cannabis Could Be a $15 Billion Business This Year -- And That’s Just the Legal Stuff

Global legal cannabis sales are predicted to reach $14.9 billion in 2019, a 36% increase over last year, according to the 2019 edition of the annual “State of Legal Cannabis Markets” report.

A joint study by the market research department of the cannabis investment company Arcview Group and the cannabis data firm BDS Analytics, the 2019 report — which runs more than 350 pages and sells for $697 per copy — is now in its seventh year.

The 2019 report is the first to evaluate the “Total Cannabinoid Market.” That means that it includes data not just on medical and recreational cannabis (including edibles) sold at dispensaries but also non-psychoactive CBD products and CBD-based pharmaceuticals approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

While $14.9 billion might seem like a substantial figure, illicit pot sales continue to far outpace the legal market. Californians alone spent an estimated $3.7 billion on illegal pot last year — more than four times what they bought legally. And while legal cannabis accounted for $1.2 billion in sales in Canada for the last quarter of 2018 — following legalization — illegal sales for the same period were estimated at $4.7 billion.

Projections for the year were boosted by the launch of legal recreational cannabis sales in Canada last October and by the proliferation of CBD products. Canada, it might be noted, is home to seven of North America’s 10 largest marijuana companies.