Weed is growing up. Not only is it becoming legal in more and more places, but it’s paying taxes, attracting older customers, and spending more on political lobbying—it’s even on stock exchanges.
These 13 charts offer a snapshot of an emerging industry with great promise (consider it a graduation photo).
One of the primary arguments against marijuana legalization is that it will lead to an increase in youth drug use, which may be more dangerous than adult use because of how it affects the developing brain. The latest data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows that among adults, past-month use has increased with legalization. However, among youth 12-17, past-month use was 6.5%, the lowest level of the last 15 years.
Older Americans are actually the fastest-growing segment in weed. According to a study published in the journal Addiction, the only two groups that appear to have seen a major increase in use are Americans older than 60, and, to an even greater degree, Americans age 50-59, who are 20 times more likely to use marijuana than their counterparts from 30 years ago.
While the older set is the fastest-growing demographic, young adults remain the heaviest users. For Americans age 18 to 29, last year use remained constant, just below 30%.
Men dominate the marijuana market, but use among women is growing.
Dispensaries in legal states sell a universe of products, of which “flower,” the botanical matter known as marijuana, is just one category. Weed delivery company Eaze, which says that it sold cannabis once every 10 seconds in 2017, has seen other types of products gain steam.
Some parts of the cannabis plant, like CBD, don’t get people high but also have huge market potential.
California, the state with the largest legal weed market, sold nearly $3 billion of weed in 2017. And that was before recreational weed became legal on January 1 this year.
Legalization is just the first battle. Favorable regulations will be key to a profitable industry. Though many of the cannabis industry’s political battles are currently being fought at the state level, the industry contributed about $700,000 to federal-level political campaigns this year.
After years of wild fluctuations in the prices of penny pot stocks, there are finally legitimate companies trading on US and Canadian stock exchanges. It’s still not an investment for the risk-averse, however. In September, Tilray, the Canadian medical marijuana company that was the most closely watched pot stock of the year reached a market cap exceeding American Airlines, on just $20 million in annual revenue. After that, some comedown was probably inevitable.
Canopy Growth and Aurora Cannabis, the other large cannabis companies on public exchanges, have also seen their prices dip recently.
And the trend may continue. Canadian recreational legalization was just a couple of months ago, on October 17, so while the quarterly numbers haven’t yet arrived, the market has been beset by shortages that are likely to continue for months and could push consumers back to illegal purchases that don’t register on the stock market.