This week, Forbes shocked readers with the observation that legal marijuana sales in the United States for 2016 were larger — and growing at a faster pace — than the dot-com boom of the early 2000s.
The news is based on findings by Arcview Market Research, the leading industry data researcher for the burgeoning regulated marijuana market in the United States.
According to Arcview in a recent report, legal marijuana sales in the U.S. and Canada grew by a meteoric 30% in 2016 to $6.7 billion.
To put that in perspective, the entire United States GDP grew at 22% during the dot-com era and it was considered unprecedented economic growth at the time.
Arcview’s editor-in-chief Tom Adams is astounded by the numbers:
“The only consumer industry categories I’ve seen reach $5 billion in annual spending and then post anything like 25% compound annual growth in the next five years are cable television (19%) in the 1990’s and the broadband internet (29%) in the 2000’s.”
And at this rate of industry expansion, assuming compounded growth, we can project legal marijuana industry sales to top $20 billion by 2021 — in just five years.
The market demand for legal marijuana, increasingly of the edible and concentrated varieties, is clearly very robust and hardly inhibited by continued federal prohibition of the plant and products made from it.
President-elect Donald Trump’s attorney general pick, Republican Senator Jeff Sessions, is known for his opposition to legal marijuana. At a Senate hearing last April, he bluntly said, “Good people don’t smoke marijuana.”
If he plans to take the $6.7 billion beast by the horns, Sessions will have an uphill battle. In the November election that resulted in Session’s cabinet position, 8 states legalized marijuana for medicinal or recreational use.
Four of them legalized marijuana for recreational purposes: Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada, and California, whose economy would rank seventh in the world if it were its own country, and which may see the legal marijuana industry outpace current whiplash growth projections.
These states will undoubtedly see major revenue from the regulation and taxation of this increasingly popular cash crop.
Just before the election, Gallup found that unaffiliated, independent voters still favor legal marijuana in greater numbers than Republican and Democratic voters, as they did a decade ago in 2005, although the percentage of supporters in all three groups has nearly doubled since then.
Currently, legal marijuana is supported by 42% of Republicans, 67% of Democrats, and 70% of independents.