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Recreational marijuana industry worth $5.4 BILLION, and is still so young

February 11, 2016
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Sweeter than candy

Earlier last year, we reported that experts predicted that legal marijuana sales would exceed those of the lucrative candy industry. Recent data from cannabis analytics firm New Frontier and Arcview Market Research reveal that America’s need for weed far exceeds our sugar tooth.

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Most growth due to newly legal sales

According to the research, legal marijuana sales hit nearly $1 billion in 2015. This surge in sales is largely due to the legalization of recreational marijuana in several states. Currently, marijuana is legally available for recreational use in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Washington D.C. Oregon, Alaska, and Washington D.C. legalized recreational pot in the November 2014 elections, and much of the growth in the industry comes from new sales in Oregon and Washington.

Expected to grow 30% each year

Medical marijuana is legal in twenty-three states, and in Washington D.C. Several states are considering legalizing medical marijuana, including Florida, Ohio, Missouri, and Pennsylvania. This year California, Nevada, Arizona, Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, and Vermont will also decide whether or not to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

Sales of recreational marijuana grew 185 percent this year, from $351 million in 2014 to $998 million in 2015. Experts estimate that the combined sales of recreational and medical marijuana makes the industry as a whole worth $5.4 billion, up from $4.6 billion in 2014. Sales are expected to grow 30 percent each year.

Legalized states enjoying the bounty

As predicted, these sales outstrip the candy industry (valued at $34 billion) and the NFL (at $10 billion). However, sales from this much-beloved plant still pale in comparison to those of tobacco (at $43 billion), alcohol ($48 billion), and pharmaceutical drugs (at $149 billion).

As more and more states legalize recreational marijuana, local governments also benefit from the profits. Tax revenue for marijuana sales in Colorado increased 77 percent this year, drawing in $135 million for the state. Washington accrued $70 million in tax revenue.

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Ellen Vessels, Staff Writer at The American Genius, is respected for her wide range of work, with a focus on generational marketing and business trends. Ellen is also a performance artist when she's not writing, and has a passion for sustainability, social justice, and the arts.

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