A new report out by Greenwave Advisors says that the cannabis industry could be worth $35 billion by 2020.
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Greenwave bills itself as a firm providing, “comprehensive research and financial analysis for the emerging legalized marijuana industry.” The figure hinges on a big if, whether or not marijuana is legalized federally. But this is a very conservative estimate in that scenario, says the company. The NFL currently generates $10 billion annually. The confectionary industry hauls in $34 billion. The newspaper industry generates an impressive, but shrinking $38 billion. By comparison, $35 billion is an astounding number. To arrive at their estimate, Greenwave looked at markets where legal cannabis, whether medical or recreational, already existed. It also looked at states which appear poised to alter their own laws. By 2020 the company assumes 37 states will have passed medical marijuana laws, and 12 states plus D.C. will have recreational ones in place. Without legalizing federally, Greenwave still puts the market at an impressive $21 billion by 2020.
These numbers aren’t certain. In fact, they are cause for debate among industry analysts. The black market for marijuana nationwide is hard enough to pin down, somewhere between $10 billion and $120 billion.
Earlier this year, we found out how hard it is to determine hard numbers on the cannabis industry. Colorado’s tax cache was way over-estimated. Investor interest has been piqued, but uncertainties still surround the market leaving many investors sitting at the sidelines, waiting to see what will happen. Since marijuana is still considered a schedule I drug under federal law, even though the Justice Department so far has had a hands-off approach, the designation doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. Marijuana is among the most dangerous substances according to the feds classification. Still, things could change easily.
Most industry watchers believe the country can only open up from here on out. The maverick states have shown that there is a lot to gain. The Cato Institute studied Colorado’s legalization effort. They released a report recently stating “changes in Colorado’s marijuana policy have had minimal impact on marijuana use and the outcomes sometimes associated with use.” It will be a slow, uneven creep toward federal legalization. Even so, the industry has vast potential in creating jobs and much needed tax revenue, something few other industries at this time are offering.