this is 2018 and MARIJUANA remains illegal in the United States.
But continued federal prohibition hasn’t stopped the marijuana industry from growing like a very profitable weed.
Despite what could be considered an unfriendly administration in Washington D.C., nine states and the District of Columbia now allow for recreational marijuana use and 30 allow for medical use. And more states are lining up to join the legalization wave. Pot has become big business in the U.S.
The emerging industry took in nearly $9 billion in sales in 2017, according to Tom Adams, managing director of BDS Analytics, which tracks the cannabis industry. Sales are equivalent to the entire snack bar industry, or to annual revenue from Pampers diapers.
That was before California opened its massive retail market in January. The addition of the Golden State is huge for the industry and Adams estimates that national marijuana sales will rise to $11 billion in 2018, and to $21 billion in 2021.
The industry has also been creating jobs and opportunities. There are 9,397 active licenses for marijuana businesses in the U.S., according to Ed Keating, chief data officer for Cannabiz Media, which tracks marijuana licenses. This includes cultivators, manufacturers, retailers, dispensaries, distributors, deliverers and test labs.
More than 100,000 people are working around the cannabis plant and that number’s going to grow, according to BDS Analytics. The industry employed 121,000 people in 2017. If marijuana continues its growth trajectory, the number of workers in that field could reach 292,000 by 2021, according to BDS Analytics.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a product in the form or oil or candy that’s used as a treatment for epilepsy or pain even though it faces a federal ban. The industry for CBD, derived from both hemp and marijuana, totaled $360 million last year, according to Sean Murphy, publisher of the Hemp Business Journal. He said it’s expected to grow to $1.1 billion by 2020 and $1.8 billion by 2022.
So what’s next?
The industry remains on shaky footing because of its precarious legal status, and the country’s top law enforcement official recently injected a healthy dose of uncertainty into recreational programs in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, California, Nevada, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Maine.