Cannabis in America

Legal Marijuana: The Fastest Growing Industry in America

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As of 2014, legalized marijuana is quickly establishing itself as the fastest growing industry in the United States, according to a new report. ArcView Market Research (AMR) just published its 3rd edition of the State of Legal Marijuana Markets report, and states that the U.S. legal cannabis market grew from $1.5 billion in 2013 to $2.7 billion in 2014, showing an overall growth of 74 percent.

In the report, AMR projects:

Full legalization of marijuana nationwide would result in $36.8 billion in retail sales, larger than the $33.1 billion U.S. organic foods market.

In order to obtain the most current information on existing marijuana markets for calculating potential growth, AMR researchers surveyed hundreds of marijuana dispensaries in key states, ancillary business operators, and independent cultivators.

The report projects that, by 2019, all of the legal marijuana markets combined will make for a potential overall market worth almost $11 billion annually.

Currently four states and Washington D.C. have legalized recreational use of marijuana, and 24 states have legalized the use of medical marijuana. However, Alaska, Oregon, and D.C, the places that passed Adult Use legislation via ballot initiatives during the most recent mid-term elections, have yet to establish markets for marijuana retail. On the other hand, Colorado has seemingly established itself as the nation’s pot headquarters with “$315 million in 2014 Adult Use sales, for $805 million total combined retail (Adult and Medical) and wholesale sales.”

California still currently boasts the most combined retail and wholesale marijuana sales of 2013 and 2014 at over $1.2 billion, but unlike Colorado, California only has laws permitting medical marijuana use. An Adult Use law initiative for the state is in the works, and if it passes in 2016, AMR projects the entire industry could rapidly double in size.

Despite the growth, some setbacks have hindered the industry. Financing has become an issue, with many banks opting not to lend to marijuana-related businesses despite the Department of Justice’s go-ahead. Nebraska and Oklahoma are also attempting to interfere with Colorado state law by suing them. In the suit they claim:

Marijuana flows from this gap into neighboring states, undermining their marijuana bans, draining their treasuries, and placing stress on their criminal justice systems.

However, some suspect that Attorney Generals Jon Bruning and Scott Pruitt’s intentions in filing the suit aren’t entirely safety motivated. Both politicians have received significant campaign contributions from alcohol companies, which are looking to remain their customers’ primary source of legal inebriation.

The potential for legalized marijuana growth is exponential, but also highly contingent on states continuing to adopt pro-marijuana legislation. As the nation weighs the pros and cons of the weed debate, the impact it has already had on the economy will probably stand out. Eventually, country-wide adoption looks to be inevitable from a financial standpoint, even if that may come as a blow to moral convictions for some.

Alexis Evans
Alexis Evans is an Assistant Editor at Law Street and a Buckeye State native. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and a minor in Business from Ohio University. Contact Alexis at



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