The legal marijuana market is booming in the U.S., and is catching up to beer and wine sales, Business Insider reports.
“The legal cannabis category [in the U.S.] is set to grow at a 17% CAGR over the next decade to as much as $47 billion in annual sales (this compares to the current diaper category at $4 billion in sales),” RBC Capital Markets analyst Nik Modi wrote in the company’s note to clients sent out on Wednesday.
The growth in sales is mostly thanks to recreational marijuana use, and specifically products such as edibles and concentrates. RBC estimates suggest that in the U.S. alone, illegal and legal marijuana sales amounted to $50 billion, compared to wine at $65 billion, cigarettes at $77 billion, and beer at $117 billion.
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“We believe further US decriminalization of cannabis including for recreational use is very likely over time,” RBC said, according to Business Insider. “It ultimately starts with US voters who across demographics are supportive of cannabis legalization.”
Anti-marijuana laws were introduced in the early 1900s, targeting Mexican migrants and Mexican Americans in the Southwest and Midwest, according to the Drug Policy Alliance. Later, in the 1980s, marijuana prohibition became a federal initiative, and as prohibition increased, so did incarceration. Between 1980 and 1997, the number of people incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses jumped from 50,000 to more than 400,000.
Today, 57% of people behind bars for a drug offense are black or Latino, and the U.S. spends over $50 billion annually fueling the war on drugs.
As the marijuana economy grows, legislation in favor of decriminalization has also become more popular. Support for legalization has reached a record high, with 64% of Americans in favor, according to a Gallup poll.