North Americans spent $53.3 billion on legal, illegal, and medical marijuana in 2016, according to a Jan. 17, 2017, release from Arcview Research Group.
That’s more than people in the United States spent on McDonald’s and Starbucks combined, according to a Jan. 18, 2017, article in Business Insider.
The Arcview report said legal marijuana spending in the U.S. and Canada hit $6.7 billion in 2016. That’s a 30 percent increase from 2015, yet legal sales were only 13 percent of the total marijuana spending in 2016.
The illegal market took in 90 percent of marijuana spending in 2015, followed by 87 percent in 2016—revealing both the growth of the legal market and the entrenchment of the illegal market.
“The enormous amount of existing, if illicit, consumer spending sets cannabis apart from most other major consumer-market investment opportunities throughout history,” Troy Dayton, CEO of Arcview Market Research, said in the release. “[T]he cannabis industry doesn’t need to create demand for a new product or innovation—it just needs to move demand for an already widely-popular product into legal channels.”
Part of the growth in legal sales is due to edibles, sprays, and other alternative ways of using marijuana, Dayton told Business Insider in an interview.
“It’s one of the major reasons that people are going to leave the underground market to go to the aboveground market. It’s about variety,” Dayton said. “You just can’t get these products on the underground market.”