Americans Spent More on Pot Last Year Than Girl Scout Cookies, Oreos AND Pringles

By May Wilkerson 04/01/16

The industry is expected to grow dramatically over the next few years, as more states loosen marijuana laws or fully legalize.

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Americans Spent More on Pot Last Year Than Girl Scout Cookies, Oreos AND Pringles
Photo via Statista

Marijuana is on the up and up in the United States. As more states legalize marijuana, more and more Americans are buying it. But just how much are Americans spending on legal weed?

According to a new chart from Statista, in 2015, retail sales of legal marijuana in states where marijuana is legal for medical or recreational use exceeded purchases of Dasani, Girl Scout cookies, Oreos, and Pringles sales combined in 2014. If you know Americans, you know that’s a lot of weed.

Infographic: America's 2015 Marijuana Sales In Context  | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

And the marijuana boom is only just beginning. The industry is expected to grow dramatically over the next few years, as more states loosen marijuana laws, and bigger states (like California) could fully legalize pot.

The benefits to this include an expanding job market, growth in tourism and more tax revenue. But naturally, there's a downside as well. Some public health experts are concerned that the "corporatization" of marijuana could mean losing sight of the potential public health risks associated with abusing the product. Vox gave examples of the tobacco and alcohol industries, whose aggressive promotion and advertising have been linked to increased use and abuse, especially among young people.

Though marijuana is considered safer than alcohol, opioids and other illegal drugs, it’s not risk-free. There’s some evidence that frequent use can damage teenage brains and even trigger psychotic episodes in some people.

There is also the general problem of overuse. "At some level, we know that spending more than half of your waking hours intoxicated for years and years on end is not increasing the likelihood that you'll win a Pulitzer Prize or discover the cure for cancer," Jon Caulkins, a drug policy expert at Carnegie Mellon University told Vox last year.

And just like alcohol companies, marijuana companies will want to target the heaviest users, since they are the most lucrative customers. A 2014 study of Colorado's pot market found that the top 29.9% heaviest pot users in the state made up 87.1% of the drug’s market.

So even though the weed boom has a lot of pros, there are some cons—because anytime money gets involved, things get complicated.

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.

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