ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Currently, about 43% of the U.S. population lives in a state where marijuana is legal to consume “just for fun”. The past few months saw a spike in that category of states when New Jersey, New York, Virginia and New Mexico, legalized marijuana for recreational use.
According to Vox.com, this shift in law and attitude has taken place in just a few years. Ten years ago, no states permitted marijuana for recreational use. Still, marijuana remains illegal at the federal level. At least two-thirds of the American public support legalization for adult recreational use, based on various public opinion surveys. The most recent Gallup poll on the topic showed that 68% of respondents support legalization and 32% are against it. Of the 15 states where marijuana legalization has been on the ballot since 2012, it was approved in 13—including more conservative states such as Alaska, Montana and South Dakota.
Legalization has also created a big new industry that is expected to continue to grow. The U.S. marijuana industry is currently valued at more than $18 billion, according to the 2021 Leafly Jobs Report. The industry has thrived during the pandemic, reports Fortune. Whether for mental health needs, self-medication or recreation, consumers hoarded alcohol and other substances in an apparent effort to cope with the social isolation caused by COVID-19. One of the biggest winners from the increase in purchases was the cannabis industry, which in 2020 saw major growth. That growth is expected to continue into the next decade and beyond.
“New consumers and patients, and newly legal states, played a role in 2020’s cannabis boom. But the main driver was an increase in the average purchase size of established consumers, who increased their average monthly spends by 33%,” according to Leafly.
Industry watchers predict that the legal U.S. marijuana industry will swell to $41.5 billion by 2025, a compound annual growth rate of 21% from 2019, according to a report from New Frontier Data.
But as NACS Daily reported yesterday, there are issues to overcome. When Canada legalized marijuana two years ago, the country expected to see new business opportunities and more job openings. But those optimistic projections failed to materialize due to the country’s tightly regulated distribution system, which largely bans advertising and marketing and had to compete with the already present illicit market.