The Cannabis Industry in America

The Cannabis Industry in America

The legalization of weed has always been a topic of debate. In the Netherlands, weed is somewhat legal. It is legal to sell, but illegal to grow. In America, cannabis was, and still is, illegal. That last sentence does not really make sense, so let me explain. America is a federation, which means that a lot of lawmaking power resides with the states. Federally speaking, cannabis is illegal in America. It is even a schedule 1 drug, listed along drugs such as heroin, LSD and ecstasy. However, more and more states have legalized or decriminalized the use of marijuana.

Colorado and Washington were the first to legalize cannabis in the United States. The citizens of those states voted to legalize it for recreational and medicinal use. A total of eight states have already legalized recreational marijuana, and a total of 28 states have legalized medical marijuana. The legalization of marijuana in these states has led to a new industry in America, the cannabis industry. So just how big is this industry and what does it entail?

We begin with the state that first fully legalized cannabis in 2012, Colorado. After the legalization, the market for marijuana quickly flourished. The market now generates over 100 million a month in revenue. A lot of new jobs were also created because of the legalization.

The regulated cannabis sales in America totaled $6.9 billion, and is predicted to reach $21.6 billion over the next five years. For comparison, the cannabis market is outpacing the growth rate of smartphones. Because of this large growth rate, there is also a lot of product innovation in the industry. One example of this is the site Leafly, which compares and reviews various dispensaries, as well as various strains of cannabis.

However, there is a big downside to marijuana being illegal on a federal level. Because of its illegality, it forces businesses to run an all-cash business. This means that businesses cannot deposit money in their accounts or perform credit card transactions. You can imagine that this gives business entrepreneurs an extra burden.

Another point that may not be relevant for the cannabis industry, but is interesting. The opioid epidemic in America has gotten really bad. Around 80 people die every day as a result of opioid addiction.  It’s gotten so bad that even conservative state legislators want to legalize medical marijuana, arguing it’s a safer, less addictive painkiller, which is also supported by researchers. This may lead the way to a full legalization of marijuana.

So what does that hold for the future?

The cannabis industry will continue to grow larger and larger. If more states follow Colorado’s example, we will see the market becoming even bigger. However, the thriving of the cannabis industry could be quickly diminished. President Trump has not yet formulated a standpoint on the legalization of cannabis. And his pick for Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, who has power over this issue, is the opposite of what the industry wants. The senator from Alabama has, in the past, been outspokenly against the legalization of cannabis.


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