U.S. Cannabis Sales Could Hit $41 Billion by 2025

Beverage and food companies see plenty of opportunities.

August 01, 2019

NEW YORK—The market for legalized cannabis, including CBD, could quintuple from $8 billion in 2018 to $41 billion by 2025, according to new data from Nielsen, the consumer research organization.

During the past four years, the range of CBD edibles and related products has grown significantly. In 2014, marijuana was legal in only two states, and there were only 166 brands of products on the market. Last year, that number jumped to 2,600 marijuana brands across four legalized states.

Cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, but opinions about and attitudes toward it are changing. In 2018, President Trump signed the Farm Bill, which legalized the growing of hemp. That act made consumers and retailers feel comfortable enough to give it a try. 

Although there are still FDA laws against using hemp-derived CBD as an additive in food, numerous retailers now sell health and beauty products containing CBD. A recent study by A.T. Kearney found that 4 in 10 U.S. consumers said they would be willing to try food with added cannabis, and more food and beverage companies have said publicly that they want to introduce cannabis products.

Beer companies are seeing success in the CBD space. Nielsen reports that cannabis-interested adults are 41% more likely to drink beer, and Lagunitas Brewing, part of Netherlands-based Heineken, sells its SuperCritical IPA made with aromatic marijuana terpenes in California. Two Roots Brewing has also released its nonalcoholic “cannabier” in Nevada.

While food companies have been more hesitant, several have promised to put the ingredient in products if the FDA makes it legal. Ben & Jerry’s said it will offer a CBD-infused ice cream to consumers. Coca-Cola has said it currently has no plans to produce a cannabis drink, but the company has talked with Aurora Cannabis about a possible CBD-infused soda.

Nielsen’s numbers include information about both marijuana and CBD-infused products. The firm also assumes 75% of the U.S. adult population will have consistent access to legal marijuana by 2025.

The FDA held its first public hearing on cannabis and CBD this year, but analysts predict it could be several years before there is a path for products to get to market. NACS is staying on top of CBD news and providing retailers with updated information about CBD compliance, resources and retailing.