How this will affect the industry is still a mystery.
The numbers are in, and pot is proving its worth, raking in eye-popping profits. According to new estimates from ArcView Market Research and New Frontier Data, two marijuana industry market research groups, $5.4 billion was spent on legal marijuana in the United States in 2015. That’s more money than Americans spent on Doritos, Cheetos, and Funyuns combined in 2015, according to market research firm Euromonitor. Essentially, more money was spent on pot than on the munchies it inevitably causes.
Sales in Colorado have been tallied to nearly $1 billion, and more than $1 billion in sales of medical marijuana took place in California. Washington state experienced dynamic monthly sales gains. $18.8 million in January 2015 grew to $75.3 million by December.
And that just accounts for legal sales. In 2012, drug policy experts estimated the total market value of pot sales to be somewhere between $15 billion and $30 billion.
How this will affect the industry is still a mystery, and it only sharpens the debate over whether legalization is good or bad for society. Legalization advocates cite the revenue, not to mention the medical benefits. They also point out how legalization curbs illegal drug activity and defuses the power of drug cartels. It also allows law enforcement to spend their energy on violent crime while helping to address our country’s overcrowded prison epidemic. Those who oppose legalization raise concerns about its addictive nature, effect on the brain, and the increased possibility of stoned driving and related accidents.