The 10 Most Interesting Marijuana Stats You’ll Ever Know

Cannabis facts and figures


The marijuana industry is worth billions of dollars in the United States alone, and there is no sign of it slowing down. In fact, 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 is Worth $70 Billion 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 weed 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, and over 80% admit they are very likely to use the same source again.

Marijuana is now fully legal in Canada, but in the first few months of 2019, over 70% of sales came from the black market. The share of the illegal market is sure to tumble; it was 87% in 2016, and it is unlikely to fall to an acceptable level for the foreseeable future.

As well as selling weed to illegal states, black market operators benefit from the fact that consumers 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.

This steady supply of high-grade marijuana at low prices means that law enforcement continues to have a major problem on their hands.

2 – 62% of Americans Believe Marijuana Should Be Legalized

This was the discovery of a Pew Research Center survey in December 2018. In contrast, only 34% of Americans now believe weed should remain illegal. As expected, there was a significant difference when looking at certain demographics. Here are what specific groups think about the status of weed:

  • Democrats: 69% say legal, 28% say illegal.
  • Republicans: 45% say legal, 51% say illegal.
  • Males: 68% say legal, 30% say illegal.
  • Females: 56% say legal, 38% say illegal.
  • White: 66% say legal, 30% say illegal.
  • Black: 56% say legal, 39% say illegal.
  • Hispanic: 48% say legal, 50% say illegal.

Unsurprisingly, in terms of age groups, it is Millennials who support weed the most with 74% saying it should be legal. This compares to 63% of Generation X, 54% of Baby Boomers, and 39% of the Silent Generation (born between 1928 and 1945, in case you were wondering).

3 – 52% of Adult Americans Have Tried Marijuana At least Once

This information came from a poll called Weed and the American Family, which was created in 2017. Interestingly, 65% of those who have imbibed in weed were parents. This is certainly 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; a figure that is also certainly significantly lower than the reality.

4 – 29% of American Adults Have Access to Recreational Marijuana

This is the estimate provided by the National Conference of State Legislatures 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 in what is classified as 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 is 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 you are arrested, you have to pay to mount your defense; 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 the many damning statistics which 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.

The level of racial bias in the marijuana industry itself is no better. One study from 2017, conducted by Marijuana Business Daily, discovered that only 4.3% of marijuana business owners were black, and just 5.7% were Latino, compared to approximately 81% of white owners.

One of the main reasons for this startling fact is that individuals with drug felony convictions are not allowed to own a dispensary. When you realize that Black and Latino people are arrested at a ridiculously disproportionate rate, it becomes clear that the game continues to be rigged against them.

7 – 88% of Those Arrested for a Marijuana-Related Crime Were ‘Guilty’ Of Possession

Had the War on Marijuana involved a large number of ‘big player’ arrests, perhaps it wouldn’t have been a complete waste of time and money. As it happens, of the more than 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.

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, and in 2018, 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, 65,000 aerospace engineers, or just over 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 over 10% 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 which 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, just $3,000 less than chefs in the food industry!

Dispensary managers are relatively well paid at 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, almost $90,000 more than the average CEO salary. One CEO, Adam Bierman, earns $1.5 million per year!

10 – $16 Billion Will be Pumped into North America’s Cannabis Industry in 2019

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 $10 billion was invested into the industry in 2018 and the figure was likely to rise to $16 billion in 2019. It is an industry set to create a brand-new set of millionaires.

One example is Green Bits, a software developer for cannabis retailers and businesses that operates out of San Jose in California. According to its CEO, Ben Curren, the company’s software processes over $2.5 billion worth of sales transactions annually for 1,000+ retail stores and dispensaries. Not bad for a firm that was only founded in 2014!

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. Oddly enough, it seems as if THC is responsible for most of the drug’s psychoactive effects!

While it is technically possible to overdose on marijuana, you would have to smoke hundreds of times more in a shorter timeframe than what is humanly possible. The marijuana plant has been used for thousands of years in medicine, and 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, and why the industry is one of the fastest-growing in the world. Now that it is legal in over two-thirds of American states for medicinal use, it is a matter of time before it is finally legalized federally. If you can’t wait that long, go to Papua New Guinea. Almost 30% of its citizens use cannabis!