The whole of North America’s legal marijuana trade generated an impressive $6.7 billion in sales last year, according to a recent analysis by industry consulting firm ArcView Group.
That’s not a bad haul for a product that is still considered mostly illegal in the eyes of the United States and Canadian governments.
But it seems that not even the outlaw status surrounding the cannabis plant is enough to prevent a huge chunk of the population from using the substance. The latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows there is somewhere around 22 million Americans using marijuana every month, with as many as 37 million at least once a year.
There are now eight states that have legalized the leaf for recreational purposes, while Canada is on the verge of making it legal nationwide. So it goes without saying that the North American pot market is only going to get stronger as these newfound policies are put into action.
In fact, the report predicts the cannabis trade is presently on course to experience a 25 percent growth rate over the next few years, raking in a whopping $20.2 billion in annual sales by the year 2021.
“The only consumer industry categories I’ve seen reach $5 billion in annual spending and then post anything like 25 percent compound annual growth in the next five years are cable television (19 percent) in the 1990s and the broadband internet (29 percent) in the 2000s,” Tom Adams, editor in chief of ArcView, said in a press release.
While it might be hard to believe that a substance the United States government refuses to recognize even for its medicinal qualities is becoming one of the most rapid growing industries in American history, that is exactly what the report conveys.
“What broadband changed for the internet was a kind of remarkable parallel to legalization for cannabis,” Adams said in an interview with Business Insider. “We saw what had been a $5 billion industry — like this one — in North America take off at that point on new growth spurts.”
In legal states like Colorado and Washington, there was a 62 percent increase in consumer spending last year on cannabis products, according to the report. But now that California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada are set to launch a recreational sector in the next year or so, the growth rate of the U.S. pot market is expected to be comparable to the Internet access industry over the course of the next four to five years.