Speed Reads

Marijuana legalization

Americans will spend $23 billion a year on legal weed by 2020 campaign, study predicts

Marijuana is still a Schedule 1 drug, meaning it is technically illegal in the U.S. But Americans still spent $5.7 billion on legal marijuana in 2015, thanks to an expanding patchwork of state laws allowing recreational or medical use of the drug. According to a new report by pot-focused data analysis firm New Frontier and ArcView Market Research, adult recreational use of weed — currently legal in Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Alaska, and Washington, D.C. — will grow steadily in coming years, reaching $12.1 billion in 2020 from $1.3 billion in 2015 and $347 million in 2014.

Added to the projected $10.7 billion in medical marijuana sales, Americans will spend $22.8 billion in 2020, according to the 4th Edition State of Legal Marijuana Markets Report. Those numbers rely on events that are hard to predict. If California voters approve legalizing recreational pot in November, for example, growth will be much stronger than if they reject the proposal.

Also in November, voters nationwide pick a new president. The Democrats in the race have been supportive of loosening federal marijuana regulations, while the Republicans generally favor medical marijuana, oppose loosening federal laws, and profess openness to letting states experiment (the pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project gives Bernie Sanders an A on pot policy, Hillary Clinton a B, Donald Trump a C+, Ted Cruz a C, and John Kasich a C-). You can see where states currently stand on marijuana at USA Today.