Demand for legal cannabis continues to show a steady increase, according to new data from Anderson Economic Group (AEG). In particular, the data reveals a significant jump since the 2016 elections, when a number of states passed new legalization laws.
Digging Into the Data
According to AEG’s AndCan Index, which tracks trends in the marijuana industry, the first part of 2018 showed a small uptick in the demand for legal cannabis products. In particular, the report found a 0.1 percent increase in the U.S. demand for legal weed in January of this year.
On its own, that figure is obviously not impressive. But the relatively slow start to 2018 is an anomaly in the context of larger trends, more dramatic trends.
“While 2018 has gotten off to a slow start, the demand for legal cannabis products is poised for even further growth in the coming months,” AEG consultant Traci Giroux said in a press release. “The recreational market in California will start to settle, and the market in Massachusetts is expected to come online this July.”
Despite the tiny uptick in January, the cannabis market has been showing steady growth for years. Since the beginning of 2015, the demand for legal weed in the U.S. has grown by 25.8 percent. Similarly, demand is up almost 11 percent since this time last year.
In the timeline of legal cannabis, 2016 was a standout year. That’s because a number of states voted to legalize new marijuana bills during that year’s elections.
More specifically, Nevada, California, Massachusetts, and Maine voted to legalize recreational weed. Additionally, Florida, Arkansas, Montana, and North Dakota all managed to pass new medical marijuana laws.
As a result of all those legislative changes, 1 in 5 Americans now has access to some form of legal cannabis, whether recreational or medical.
Not surprisingly, these new markets have contributed to the rise in demand for legal weed. And the experts at AEG expect that demand to keep rising. That’s especially true as more and more states continue to loosen their cannabis laws.
Final Hit: Data Shows The Demand For Legal Cannabis Is Increasing
One of the biggest changes to the national weed scene this year was the rollout of legal recreational cannabis in California. Retail sales began at the beginning of 2018. Close on California’s heels, Massachusetts is also expected to get its retail program up and running this year.
Earlier in 2018, Vermont lawmakers voted to legalize recreational weed. There are also at least 12 other states that could see marijuana bills on the ballot this year.
All of these changes could add to the spiking demand for legal weed. But at the same time, the Trump administration continues to generate uncertainty. A lot of the confusion and concern coming from industry players has to do with Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Sessions has long been an outspoken opponent of cannabis. He once said that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.” Earlier this year, he suggested that cannabis is one of the primary causes of the ongoing opioid epidemic.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Sessions rescinded the Cole Memo at the very beginning of January. The Cole Memo is an Obama-era policy that directs federal agencies to take a “hands-off” approach to dealing with states where weed is legal. By rescinding the Cole Memo, Sessions may have opened the door to a federal crackdown on weed-legal states.