Legal Marijuana Could Be A $35 Billion Industry By 2020

By McCarton Ackerman 07/20/15

But only if all 50 states legalize it.

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Recreational and medical marijuana have already brought in big bucks in states where it’s legal, but a new report suggests that it could potentially be a multi-billion dollar industry within the next five years.

The findings from GreenWave Advisors, an industry research company that tracks retail marijuana sales, show that marijuana for medical and recreational use could become a $35 billion market by 2020 if all 50 states legalize it. The four states where it’s currently legal for recreational use, as well as the District of Columbia, have already shown a massive growth in sales since it was approved.

“We’ve never had an industry that was a black market industry of this size,” said Leslie Bocskor, founder of cannabis industry consulting firm, Electrum Partners. “It will eventually plateau, but we still have a few years of growth. Growth begets growth.”

Marijuana sales in Washington reached $2 million during its first month of legal use in July 2014, but that number has since soared to $31.9 million in sales last month and nearly $180 million over the last 12 months. Meanwhile, Colorado retailers brought in $305 million in sales last year.

Those within the marijuana industry are now looking to California as the catalyst for full legalization across the country. State voters will decide on legal marijuana on the November 2016 ballot and many are optimistic that it could lead to more businesses entering the market if approved.

“It’s a tremendous market, with its proximity to Washington and Colorado,” said Steve Gormley, chief business development officer at OSL Holdings, Inc., (OSLH), a company focused on consumer advocacy and social activism. “There is an advantage from a revenue standpoint of legalizing recreationally, and we will start to see other states moving rapidly in the same direction.”

However, state legalization nationwide may be the only way to get legal pot across the board because the federal government doesn’t appear to be budging. Last April, U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller refused to change the drug’s current Schedule I status, meaning it’s still classified as having a high potential for addiction and has no accepted medical benefits.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.