Americans love their munchies, but apparently not as much as the substance that produces them.
In 2015, Americans spent $5.4 billion on medical and recreational pot, up 17 percent from 2014, according to the ArcView Market Research group, which estimates this figure will grow at an annual rate of 30 percent over the next five years.
To put this staggering figure into perspective, it’s more money than Americans spent on Doritos, Cheetos and Funyuns, combined in 2015, according to market research firm Euromonitor.
It is also worth noting that this $5.4 billion figure only represents legal marijuana sales. Illegal pot sales, although impossible to know for sure, account for much more. Most analysts put the figure in the area of $20 to $30 billion a year, according to the Washington Post.
While ArcView encourages investors to jump into the green revolution, there are still many challenges—the main one being where to stash all that cash.
Because of the disconnect between federal policy, under which pot is completely illegal, and laws in states where it has been legalized, federal restrictions have made it impossible for marijuana businesses to have access to banking or to enjoy any of the normal business tax breaks.
Marijuana industry business people recently told the New York Times about the hidden costs of not banking and how difficult and dangerous it has become as their businesses bring in millions in cash.
One dispensary owner told the NY Times that he has nine 1,000-pound safes bolted to the floor in the back of his shop in Boulder and that at any given moment, they hold up $100,000 in cash. Like many others in his position, he pays a comfortable sum for armed guards to watch his place at night.
Even with these challenges, if pot is outselling Cheetos, I’m guessing there are many among us who wouldn’t mind having such problems.