What a difference a few years makes: although marijuana is illegal under federal law, the recreational and legal cannabis industry raked in billions of dollars last year, and it’s only expected to keep on growing (pun totally intended).
With 23 states and D.C. allowing medical marijuana and four states — Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska — plus D.C. legalizing pot for recreational use, the U.S. weed market pulled in an estimated $5.4 to billion in sales last year total, reports MarketWatch, up from $4.6 billion in 2014.
According to a report from a cannabis analytics firm New Frontier and Arcview Market Research, sales of recreational pot shot up 184% year over year, up to $998 million in 2015 from $351 million in 2014. Colorado and Washington state were responsible for a lot of the industry’s growth, the report said. Colorado tax revenue and recreational sales is predicted to be $135 million for 2015, a 77% hike from $76 million in revenue in 2014. Washington pulled in $70 million in tax revenue.
The marijuana train won’t be going off the rails anytime soon: the report estimates that the weed industry will continue to grow by 30% annually. California, Nevada, Arizona, Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont are all expected to decide on recreational legalization this year, while Florida, Ohio, Missouri, and Pennsylvania will vote on medical legalization in some form.
This, despite the fact that marijuana is illegal under federal law and is classified as a Schedule I drug.
In comparison, beer, wine, and liquor stores that sell directly to consumers (not including grocery stores or gas stations) raked in about $48 billion in sales last year, while tobacco generated around $43 billion. Weed sales aren’t dinging booze sales yet either, as we learned last year. At least, not so far.