Bigger Than Football? This Report Shows Just How Big the Cannabis Industry Is

Everyone knows that legal cannabis is big business these days, but you might be surprised to find out just how much people spend on legal weed.

Legal cannabis sales in the US pulled in somewhere between $8.6 billion and $10 billion dollars in 2018, according to  a new report from MJBizDaily. And for a market that really only exists in a fifth of US states, that's not too shabby. To put it in perspective, that's only slightly less than the amount of money that Taco Bell (one of America's top 10 fast food chains by revenue) made in the US in 2018.

In a relatively short amount of time, the marijuana market's revenue is expected to eclipse some even bigger American industries as more states legalize and existing markets grow. By 2020, Americans will likely be spending more money on legal weed than the NFL generates in a year. Legal cannabis revenues could grow as much as 200 percent by 2023 over the 2018 numbers.

Of course, the numbers put up by legal cannabis is paltry compared to how much  money still flows through the illicit market. Estimated combined total revenues generated through the illicit and legal cannabis markets are between $50 billion and $60 billion. That means people are spending as much as $15 billion more on cannabis than such American staples as pizza. Pizza!

What this all means is that there is still a whole lot of money left on the table for states who haven't taken the plunge into legal cannabis sales just yet. Of course, getting that money would mean admitting that the War on Drugs has been a monumental failure, something many lawmakers just aren't prepared to do. So it might take a while before we see the cannabis industry realize its full financial potential.


US Surgeon General Jerome Adams said the biggest risk to your health in America is stigma. During a lecture at UC Davis Medical School on Monday, Adams took sometime to talk about what he sees as the biggest health crisis in America right now: stigma. In particular, the public sentiments around addiction and drug use cause huge barriers that often mean people don't get the medical attention they need.

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