Watch How Tenfold Increase in ‘Adult Weed’ Fuels Marijuana Industry Boom by 2020

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Although it remains prohibited at the federal level, 23 states have in recent years approved the use of marijuana for medical purposes, while 4 states (Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Alaska, plus DC) also allow recreational use by adults.


This year is a tipping point: a further 7 states are voting on adult use and another 4 on medical use in 2016. Adult use may well become legal in crucial states such as California, Nevada and Massachusetts. By the end of 2016, it’s likely that a clear majority of states will have moved from prohibition to legalization of some sort – all in less than half a decade.

As this GIF shows, wider and broader legalization will have a huge impact on the official marijuana market. Between now and 2020, sales are set to triple, from an estimated $7.1 billion to a projected $22.8 billion. While medical use is predicted to double, the real engine of growth will continue to be adult, recreational use. Legal cannabis sales grew from $4.6 billion in 2014 to $5.7 billion a year later. Most of that increase was in adult use, which more than tripled, from $374 million to $1.2 billion in 2015.

Medical marijuana’s relatively sluggish growth is evidenced by the prediction that the California market will shrink slightly, from $2.7 billion in 2015 to $2.6 billion in 2020, at which time the total medical marijuana market is projected to generate $10.7 billion. As legalized adult recreational use gets more widespread, many medical users are expected to make the switch to that retail channel – furthering its predicted explosive growth. By 2020, the total adult marijuana market is expected to be worth $12 billion – more than the medical marijuana market, and an incredible tenfold increase in just 5 years. Washington state’s adult marijuana market is predicted to be the nation’s biggest, at $2.6 billion, followed by Colorado’s, at $2 billion.

Several factors contribute to the rapid rise of the marijuana industry. Legalization has had largely beneficial effects on crime levels, has put a dent in the illicit pot trade and has generated tax windfalls for state governments. In 2015, Colorado expected an intake of $135 million in marijuana-related fees and taxes, up 77% from the previous year.

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