Potential US Marijuana Market Estimated at $46 Billion

By Anne Holland

According to the number crunchers at Washington State’s Office of Financial Management, a “fully functioning marijuana market” could result in an in-state total of $1.021 billion gross sales of marijuana grams per year. Only 2.15% of the US population lives in Washington State, so extrapolated, this data could indicate, if cannabis were legalized nationally, the total US marijuana marketplace could be as big as $46.42 billion per year. That does not include auxiliaries such as hydroponics or paraphernalia, or services to the dispensary industry such as landlords, testing labs, security systems, insurance, advertising, etc.

To put this number in perspective, according to the Economic Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture, as of 2003 US alcoholic beverage sales were an estimated $115 billion. Currently the US legal medical marijuana industry is an estimated $1.7-2 billion in total.

Washington State’s figures were based marijuana consumption patterns from a United Nations Office on Drug and Crime report from 2006. They estimated 363,000 in-state marijuana users consuming slightly more than 85 million grams total per year. For the calculations, the retail price was estimated at $12/gram. Retail price fluctuations — especially due to price wars we’ve reported on in several states with a plethora of competing dispensaries — could make a significant difference in the almost $50 billion total.

These figures also assume all consumed marijuana would be bought at retail, and not homegrown. However, homegrown cannabis also feeds the US economy due to sales of equipment, seeds, fertilizer, utilities, publications, etc.

Washington State’s full fiscal impact report is available online as an eight-page PDF here. It includes useful stats for other states considering making cannabis legal, ranging from increased costs and revenues from DUI enforcement to estimated losses due to ending certain federal grants for drug enforcement.

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