North American Medical Cannabis Sales Up Significantly In 2016

Legal cannabis spending
Image : ArcView - 5th edition of The State of Legal Marijuana Markets

North American consumers spent $6.9 billion on legal cannabis products (both medical and adult use) in 2016, up 34% from 2015.

According to Arcview’s 5th edition of The State of Legal Marijuana Markets, U.S. medical cannabis sales in 2015 reached USD $4.16 billion and in 2016, hit $5.084 billion; up around 18%.

Dispensaries appear to have done brisk trade in 2016. The report states average sales for medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado was $896,000 and in Oregon, $292,000.

The illicit market still makes up the lion’s share of marijuana sales. Including the illicit market, consumer spending on cannabis in North America amounted to an estimated staggering $56.4 billion in 2016, 88% of it outside legal channels.

The United States made of 86% of North American legal spending in 2016; with California accounting for 31%,  Colorado 19% and Washington representing 11%.

The products available in the market are rapidly changing, with the increasing availability of extracts, edibles, topicals and other forms. According to the report, in Colorado dried flowers now make up less than 56% of the business.

Arcview says the stunning 40% compound annual growth rate from 2014 to 2016 in the legal cannabis industry was driven primarily by Colorado and Washington commencing adult-use sales; but forecasts this blistering rate of growth will ease off to a degree this year to 19%.

During 2016, more states passed legislation to enable access to new markets and build on existing ones than any previous year.

A quite detailed free Executive Summary of the report can be downloaded here. For this edition of its publication, the firm partnered with BDS Analytics, whose data is backed up by point-of-sale transaction details. In this year’s report, Canada and Mexico have been included in the report for the first time.

The yet to be released  full report delves into the forecast of North American legal cannabis spending skyrocketing from $6.9 billion in 2016 to $21.6 billion in 2021.

“Part of that context is the 10,000-year history of human cannabis use, in which, as the Marijuana Policy Project argues, the eight decades of the prohibition era now slowly ending will eventually prove to have just been “a blip,” says Arcview.