This post originally appeared on VICE Canada.
When all of us were smoking dime bags from our high school dealers in our best friend's basement, we probably never thought the weed industry would get to where it is today—and where it's headed. Cannabis broke the Canadian stock market last year. We're living in a time where there can be a recall on weed by Canada's health ministry. And now, a new report has shown that the legal weed market could reach $21 billion (£17 billion) by 2021.
A report by ArcView Market Research, "The State of Legal Marijuana Markets," which studied medicinal, legal, and illicit weed markets, showed that in 2016, Americans and Canadians spent a combined $56.4 billion (£45 billion) on weed. However, only $6.9 billion (£5.6 billion) of that total was legal spending—meaning 88 percent was illegal—showing how much money the black market still has a hold on.
That projected $21 billion over the next few years is based on what growth the Canadian weed market, as well as those in Massachusetts and California, is expected to see pending legalization. However, the report notes this is assuming the US "does not return to waging all-out war on the cannabis industry" under its new presidency.
While Canada is on the verge of legalization countrywide within the next two years, the US is continuing to resist legal weed at a federal level, allowing states to decide on the matter instead. In 2016, seven more American states voted to legalize marijuana. Mexico has also started a process to legalize medical marijuana.
The ArcView report also laid out how illegality has held the weed market back from reaching its true potential.
"In contrast to comparable markets which quickly grew from zero to tens of billions of dollars, such as organic foods, home video, cellphone, or the internet, the cannabis industry doesn't need to create demand for a new product or innovation—it just needs to move demand for an already widely popular product into legal channels."
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