Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Night 60° Partly Cloudy
News >  Business

How much marijuana was sold in 2016? A lot!

By Gene Marks Washington Post

While some activists are planning to give away marijuana on Inauguration Day, other entrepreneurs are taking a different approach: making a ton of money from it.

According to Governing.com, 29 states and the District of Columbia have or will soon have laws legalizing marijuana in some form. Use of recreational marijuana is legal in eight states. As its popularity has grown, so have profits.

In 2016, sales of legal marijuana in North America totaled $6.7 billion – an increase of more than 30 percent – according to a report from Arcview Market Research. The number is projected to rise to $20.2 billion by 2021.

Debra Borchardt, who covers retail and cannabis for Forbes, contends that the growth is larger and faster than even the dot-com era. Borchardt also quoted Arcview’s editor-in-chief, who said “the only consumer industry categories I’ve seen reach $5 billion in annual spending and then post anything like 25 percent compound annual growth in the next five years are cable television (19 percent) in the 1990s and the broadband internet (29 percent) in the 2000s.”

Regulatory resistance, particularly at the federal level, is waning. Jeff Sessions, the potential attorney general, is opposed to cannabis, but he has other fish to fry. Recently, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., asked the federal Financial Crimes Enforcement Network for additional guidance to help banks serve the growing number of marijuana merchants (many banks have been reluctant to serve this industry due to existing federal statutes).

Growth is being fueled by the rising popularity of marijuana-infused concentrates and edibles. But what’s not included in these numbers are the billions being generated by indirect industries that are also profiting from the cannabis boom, including those that sell accessories, machinery and equipment, pesticides and real estate.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox

Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.