Legal cannabis is a rapidly growing, billion-dollar industry showing no signs of slowing down as legalization advances.
The cannabis industry is broken up into three different sectors including recreational marijuana, medical marijuana, and hemp. Recreational marijuana refers to the intentional use of cannabis for intoxication and enjoyment. Medical marijuana refers to cannabis use recommended by a physician to treat certain health conditions. Hemp is the industrialized version of cannabis used to create an array of products.
Retail cannabis sales reached almost $20 billion globally in 2020 and are expected to more than double by 2025. A little over $18 billion contributed to US sales alone. Nearly $12 billion of the annual total contributing to recreation sales and almost $8 billion to medical marijuana sales. Total cannabis sales rose 38% in 2020 despite the Coronavirus outbreak. Industrial hemp has a market value of over 5 billion and a growth rate of nearly 16% within the coming years.
As of this month, in the U.S., 15 states have fully legalized recreational and medical marijuana use and 36 states allow some form of medical marijuana. These numbers will increase as states push for legalization and the new government administration adopts modest cannabis reforms. Although the current president does not support full marijuana legalization, the majority of Congress leaders aim to end marijuana prohibition in the coming years.
Statistics show the majority of Americans already support legalization with 68% supporting marijuana legalization and 90% supporting medical marijuana. Democratic senators plan to push cannabis reform ending federal marijuana prohibition and restorative justice for previous convictions of marijuana-related crimes.
Cannabis prohibition started in the 1930s when Harry Aslinger founded the Federal Bureau of Narcotics attempting to destroy cannabis. Then in 1937, the Marihuana Tax Act signed by President Franklin Roosevelt ruined the cannabis industry by putting American farmers in debt. In 1942 the U.S. government promoted the cultivation of hemp for World War II but terminated all support when the war ended. In 1970 marijuana was designated a Schedule 1 drug based on the Controlled Substances Act signed by President Richard Nixon. During this time while marijuana is considered a Schedule 1 drug, the government holds all legal rights to the medicinal uses of cannabis.
Oddly enough, in 1985, the U.S. government legalized synthetic THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) developed by Big Pharma to treat cancer. Marinol is the synthetic and more expensive form of THC and made $100 million in sales for the pharmaceutical companies. Essentially, results from lobbying have created complications when it comes to legalizing marijuana.
Currently, the cannabis industry supports over 321,000 jobs in the U.S. In addition, despite the global pandemic, the legal industry added over 77,300 jobs in the U.S. As Americans become more familiar with cannabis, its’ popularity will inevitably increase. Government legislators have prioritized the legalization of marijuana creating a positive outlook for the future of this industry.
Barcott, B. (2020, December 22). Marijuana sales date reveal Americans bought 71% more weed to survive 2020.
Barcott, B. (2021, February 16). The US cannabis industry now supports 321,000 full-time jobs.
BDSA. (2020, September 3). Global Cannabis Market to Reach Nearly $20 Billion in 2020.
Ministry of Hemp. (2019). Truth Behind Cannabis.
Nunley, C. (2021, February 1). Democratic Senators Will Push to Pass Pot Reform Bill This Year.