Cannabis industry coming out of the pandemic even stronger

Cannabis industry coming out of the pandemic even stronger

By Alicia Wallace

When members of the cannabis industry descended upon Las Vegas last week for the biggest trade show in the business, there was something stirring in the air. It wasn’t the aroma of a freshly lit joint, but rather a sense that everything seems to be coming up roses for the industry.

Despite a global pandemic, discombobulated supply chains, ballooning inflation and an ongoing fight to legalize marijuana on a federal level, the cannabis industry in America is flourishing.

Sales hit $20 billion in 2020, are on pace to top $26 billion this year, and are projected to leapfrog to $45.9 billion in 2025, according to data from Marijuana Business Daily that were shared at the MJBizCon, the industry’s annual trade show. The nearly $46 billion in sales would make the cannabis industry larger than the craft beer industry, said Chris Walsh, chief executive officer and president of MJBizDaily.

“These are potentially conservative numbers with what we see playing out,” Walsh said during the kickoff to the three-day event.

Snowballing US sales shouldn’t come as a surprise. At this point, the majority of Americans live in a state where some form of cannabis is legal. More than two-thirds of US states have legalized medical cannabis, of those, 18 have legalized cannabis for recreational use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Indeed, the cannabis industry got a pandemic-era boost from consumers flush with stimulus money, people forced to stay home with little to do, and dispensaries in certain states being deemed essential businesses. Many states, including trailblazers like Colorado, posted record sales in 2020.

But the past 12 to 18 months show there is more to the story than a Covid bump, Walsh said. Sales continued to accelerate at a record pace in markets across the US — notably in established states, such as Colorado, Washington and Oregon, Walsh said.

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