The marijuana industry is worth billions of dollars in the United States alone. There is no sign of it slowing down. It seems as if the only way it can go is UP. To date, 33 states plus D.C. have legalized the herb for medicinal use. Of these, 11 states plus D.C. have recreational marijuana laws.
Cannabis is becoming less taboo, so a lot of significant and fascinating statistics are being released. Of course, the anti-weed propaganda machine is working overtime. ‘Don’t try pot,’ they say. ‘Instead, wreck your liver with alcohol, increase your cancer risk exponentially with tobacco, and overdose on addictive opioids instead. When you’re done, consume high fructose corn syrup, devour junk food and get diabetes and heart conditions.’
Now that little rant is over, let’s take a look at some fascinating data surrounding cannabis.
1 – The Black Market Comprises Over 80% of All Sales in the United States Alone
The black market in weed is still thriving. Even though it was made fully legal in California, up to 80% of all marijuana sold in the state comes from illegal sources. Research by Eaze revealed that 20% of customers within the Golden State bought cannabis on the black market. Over 80% admit they are very likely to use the same source again. New Frontier Data found that the California black market is worth $3.7 billion!
Marijuana is now fully legal in Canada, but a large number of people still use the black market.
Legal sales are expected to exceed $1 billion this year, but illegal sales are worth between $5 billion and $7 billion. Illicit sales are falling, however. In the first few months of 2019, over 70% of sales came from the black market. It was 87% in 2016, and just 43% towards the beginning of 2020.
Consumers in legal states don’t want to pay the high taxes associated with the herb. In states like Washington, there is a massive oversupply, so growers sell their weed on the black market in neighboring illegal states. In the 39 states where adult-use cannabis remains illegal, dealers have sufficient demand.
This steady supply of high-grade marijuana at low prices means that law enforcement continues to have a significant problem on their hands.
2 – 67% of Americans Believe Marijuana Should Be Legalized
This was the discovery of a Pew Research Center survey in November 2019. In contrast, only 32% of Americans now believe weed should remain illegal. It is a 5% increase on the 62% figure reported by Pew in December 2018.
As expected, there was a significant difference when looking at particular demographics. Here are what specific groups think about the status of weed:
- Democrats: 78% say legal, 20% say illegal
- Republicans: 55% say legal, 44% say illegal
- Males: 68% say legal, 30% say illegal
- Females: 65% say legal, 33% say illegal
- White: 69% say legal, 30% say illegal
- Black: 67% say legal, 33% say illegal
- Hispanic: 63% say legal, 32% say illegal
Unsurprisingly, in terms of age groups, it is Millennials who support weed the most with 76% saying it should be legal. This compares to 65% of Generation X, 63% of Baby Boomers, and 35% of the Silent Generation. The latter group was born between 1928 and 1945, in case you were wondering.
3 – 52% of Adult Americans Have Tried Marijuana at least Once
Interestingly, 65% of those who have imbibed in weed were parents. This is undoubtedly NOT an indication of parenthood being stressful! Also, 51% of current users are parents!
Research from the Annals of Internal Medicine in August 2018 involved surveying over 16,00 adults. Over 14% of those surveyed admitted to using the herb within the last 30 days. According to Motley Fool, this equated to almost 37 million American adults!
Globally, the United Nations suggests that almost 159 million people use marijuana.
It is a figure that is almost certainly significantly lower than reality. A 2019 World Drug Report states that 200 million people smoke cannabis globally. This figure rose by 60% in the last decade.
4 – 78 Million American Adults Have Access to Recreational Marijuana
This is the estimate provided by the National Conference of State Legislatures. It is based on the combined adult population of states where marijuana is legal recreationally. At the time of writing, 11 states plus Washington D.C. allow the sale, purchase, and possession of small amounts of weed.
Typically, the maximum limit is one ounce. To purchase more, you’ll need to become part of the state’s medical-marijuana program. However, in Michigan, residents are allowed up to 2.5 ounces and up to 10 ounces in their home! Even if you’re caught with less than 5 ounces, the penalty is a $500 fine for a civil infraction. Possession of over 5 ounces is a misdemeanor if it is your first offense.
5 – Enforcing Possession Laws Costs the Police $3.6 Billion Per Annum
Despite the increase in legalization, the herb is still completely illegal in 17 states and not permitted for recreational use in 39 states. As a result, police are still making an estimated 820,000 arrests for possession of weed each year. To say it is a complete waste of police time and resources is an understatement.
Then there is the small matter of potentially ruining a person’s life for the ‘crime’ of carrying a few grams of pot. Once arrested, you have to pay to mount your defense. This process carries a price tag of somewhere between $2,000 and $20,000. Approximately 50,000 arrests, or 6%, result in a felony conviction.
Remarkably, approximately 90% of people arrested for marijuana possession have no previous criminal convictions.
Even if you avoid jail time, a stain on your record can have serious ramifications. According to Bruce Western, a criminal record reduces callbacks from potential employers by up to 50%.
Once you have spent time in jail, your earning capacity dwindles markedly. Western found that prison time reduces wage growth by 30% during a lifetime. If you graduated from High School but end up with a felony record, you can expect a loss of over $300,000 in lifetime earnings.
6 – Black People Are 273% More Likely to be Arrested for Possession Than White People
This is one of many statistics that prove the significant level of racial bias in the enforcement of marijuana laws. This figure comes from research by the ACLU who found some startling facts when looking into racial discrimination. The discrepancy is more extreme in certain states.
In New York, for example, over 80% of all individuals arrested for marijuana possession in 2016 were Latino or Black. Figures from 2018 show that African-Americans were four times more likely to get arrested for cannabis possession as whites in Wisconsin.
The level of racial bias in the marijuana industry itself is no better. One study, conducted by Marijuana Business Daily, discovered that only 4.3% of marijuana business owners were black. Just 5.7% were Latino, compared to approximately 81% of white owners. Meanwhile, as little as 1% of dispensary owners are African-American.
Individuals with drug felony convictions are not allowed to own a dispensary. Bear in mind that Black and Latino people are arrested at a ridiculously disproportionate rate. Suddenly, it becomes clear that the game is rigged against them.
7 – 92% of Those Arrested for a Marijuana-Related Crime in 2018 Were ‘Guilty’ of Possession
The War on Marijuana was supposed to involve a large number of ‘big player’ arrests. Instead, it is a complete waste of time and money.
Of the 8 million arrests made between 2001 and 2010, only 12% were for something other than possession.
Just over half of all drug arrests in the United States during that time-frame were for weed. In other words, cops were making a virtually pointless cannabis arrest every 37 or so seconds. Either the person being arrested got away with it, paid a fine, or were sent to prison. It did nothing to curb the sale or supply of marijuana.
Despite legalization in several states, the rate of non-possession arrests is now just 8%! In 2018, law enforcement made a drug arrest every 19 seconds. Over 608,000 of the total 1.65 million arrests were for cannabis possession.
8 – The Marijuana Industry Employs at Least 211,000 People Full-Time in the United States Alone
It is no surprise to learn that the weed industry is the fastest-growing job market in the country. In 2018 alone, the industry added over 64,000 jobs, a growth of 44%. Overall, almost 300,000 people work with weed if you include part-time and seasonal employees. As more states legalize the herb, the number of jobs is likely to grow.
Unsurprisingly, California leads the way with an estimated 67,000 weed jobs. Washington is next with 47,000, followed by Colorado with 44,000. There is no reason to believe the market won’t continue to grow. The Marijuana Business Daily predicted that there would be up to 340,000 full-time marijuana industry jobs in America by 2022.
The number of weed workers compares favorably to better-known industries. For example, did you know that there are only slightly over 131,000 chefs in the U.S.? Were you aware that there are only 40,000 computer operators or 65,000 aerospace engineers? What about the 52,000 jobs in the coal industry? President Trump keeps talking about reviving the dying coal market; perhaps he should look at marijuana instead.
9 – The Median Salary in the Marijuana Industry Is Over $58,000 Per Annum
This data came from a Local Pay Report by Glassdoor in December 2018. What’s more impressive is that this median figure is 11% higher than the national average. So much for it being an industry filled with low-paying jobs! The growth of the market is driving a demand for a large variety of skills.
Over half of job openings in the cannabis industry are for technical and professional workers.
Obviously, some roles pay more than others. The job of bud trimmer is considered an entry-level gig that pays an average of close to $30,000 per annum. If you are interested, it is best to try Colorado, which pays more than companies in Washington or California. Security workers earn over $34,000 on average, while edibles producers earn an average of almost $47,000. The latter figure is just $3,000 less than chefs in the food industry!
Dispensary managers receive an average of over $68,000. That is approximately $11,000 more than the food industry equivalent. Apparently, Massachusetts and Maryland pay the best rates. The CEOs of four of the biggest five weed companies in America earn an average of $285,000 per annum. This figure is almost $90,000 more than the average CEO salary. One CEO, Adam Bierman, earns $1.5 million per year!
10 – The North American Cannabis Industry Will Potentially Be Worth $35 Billion in 2023
You can’t expect a market to grow and thrive without investment, and entrepreneurs are piling into the marijuana industry. The Associated Press claimed that investors put $10 billion into the industry in 2018. Viridian Capital Advisors suggested that cannabis companies raised $13.8 billion in that year.
Most estimates suggested that the figure rose to $16 billion in 2019. It is an industry set to create a brand-new set of millionaires. During the last couple of years, there was a surge in the stock prices of many marijuana stocks. They subsequently fell significantly in 2019. However, many analysts believe the industry is showing ‘bottoming out’ signals.
Several of the world’s most significant marijuana players have recently expanded their operations. Joe Public is beginning to get interested in cannabis company stocks. Experts now say the market’s worth will swell to $35 billion by 2023. All of this is happening without federal legalization. One can only imagine how quickly the market would grow if America followed Canada’s lead!
Final Thoughts on Marijuana Industry Statistics
The data mentioned above doesn’t even take into account the marvelous plant itself. Crucial data include the fact that there are over 400 chemicals, well over 110 cannabinoids, and at least 200 terpenes. It seems as if THC is responsible for most of the drug’s psychoactive effects!
It is technically possible to overdose on marijuana. However, you would have to smoke hundreds of times more in a shorter timeframe than what is humanly possible.
We have used the marijuana plant for thousands of years in medicine. Millions of users swear that it is an effective treatment for what ails them.
Maybe this is why more than half of American adults have tried the herb at least once. It is also why the industry is one of the fastest-growing in the world. It is now legal in over two-thirds of American states for medicinal use. Surely, it is a matter of time before it becomes completely legal, at least for medical use? If you can’t wait that long, go to Papua New Guinea. Almost 30% of its citizens use cannabis!