Marijuana Business Is America's Fastest Growing, Says Industry Report

Marijuana is the fastest growing industry in the U.S. So says a new report by California's Arcview Market Research. And while the study, spotlighted in a summary on view below, doesn't exactly qualify as an objective third-party report (it was largely funded by cannabis-biz outfits, including several in Colorado), the point of view espoused shows how eager ganjapreneurs are to build upon their previous economic victories.

See also: Marijuana: MMJ Sales Outpace Rec in September and October, Patient Numbers Grow

Among the sponsors of "The State of Marijuana Markets" are CanopyBoulder, described as a "seed-stage, mentorship-driven business accelerator for companies developing ancillary products and services for the broadening legal cannabis industry," as well as Denver Relief Consulting and the National Cannabis Industry Association, also located here. No surprise, then, that the introduction to the summary is bullish in the extreme. An excerpt reads:
In 2014, the legal cannabis industry expanded 74% to reach $2.7 billion in combined retail and wholesale sales, and firmly established itself as the fastest growing industry in America. 2014 will be remembered as the year that the legal cannabis industry became a consistent focal point for national media outlets and captured the public's attention in a way that no other industry has in recent history. Five states now boast markets greater than $100 million, while one additional state posted sales above the $50 million mark. Legal Adult Use sales began for the first time in Colorado and Washington, adding $370 million in new sales dollars. Voters in two more states and Washington, D.C., approved Adult Use measures, three states approved new medical use laws, and 11 states passed laws that allow for limited distribution of cannabidiol (CBD) products, a non-psychoactive but potentially medically useful component of cannabis.
The report describes Colorado as "the new epicenter of the industry as the first active Adult Use market, and recorded $315 million in 2014 Adult Use sales, for $805 million total combined retail (Adult and Medical) and wholesale sales." These figures dwarfs the ones in Washington thus far: The summary puts the amount of adult-use sales since the market's mid-year opening at $65 million.

Nonetheless, Colorado remains in second place to California, a much-more populous state with a longer record of medical-marijuana sales, when it comes to overall revenues. Here's one graphic from the report....

Plenty of other states are getting into the game, however. Here's a graphic showing the number of medical-marijuana states currently or expected to be online soon.... ...and this one maps adult-use legislation, with projections through 2020: An additional chart sees sales continuing to go up, up, up in the next couple of years, continuing recent trends: As suggested by these numbers, the report's authors see growth continuing. Another excerpt notes:
2014 was a year full of bellwether moments and 2015 is expected to continue on the same path. But ArcView Market Research believes 2016 could be an even more significant year for the cannabis industry, cementing the industry's rightful place in the U.S. health, wellness and business landscape. National advocacy groups such as the Marijuana Policy Project and the Drug Policy Alliance, along with their state-level counterparts, have already planned for legalization ballot initiatives in at least six states in 2016, including an Adult Use initiative in California. Should an Adult Use legalization initiative pass in California in 2016 the entire industry could rapidly double in size. These ballot initiatives, however, will require many more campaign dollars than have ever been raised before for cannabis legalization. It remains to be seen if -- considering the current belief that national legalization is inevitable -- wealthy activists and industry donors will be motivated to give at a rate commensurate with the opportunities for victory.
The full report is pricey: $495. But presumably, all those people getting rich on marijuana sales can afford it. Click here for more information -- and continue to read the executive summary.

The State of Marijuana Markets: Executive Summary

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts