2024 U.S. Cannabis Sales Projected To Exceed $31 Billion

Regulated marijuana sales in the United States are expected to exceed $31 billion this year, according to a recent economic forecast from a firm specializing in cannabis and hemp business consulting, data, and economic research. 

The projection from Portland, Oregon-based Whitney Economics estimates that legal sales of medical marijuana and adult-use cannabis will total $31.4 in 2024. The forecasted amount is an increase of $2.6 billion from 2023, representing a growth rate of 9.14% year over year.

The projection notes that legal sales of cannabis have been suppressed since the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, citing changes in consumer purchasing power, higher interest rates and delayed implementation of regulations in new markets as challenges facing the industry. Despite these factors, overall cannabis growth has remained positive. Legal cannabis sales declined in 10 states, however, an indication that new markets are needed for the industry to continue to grow.

Beau Whitney, chief economist at Whitney Economics, said that the new projection builds on a similar market analysis completed by the company last year.

“We are quite proud of our predictive analytics that resulted in last year’s forecast versus actuals being 98.3% accurate,” Whitney said in a statement about the new projection. “Although there are uncertainties in the near-term outlook, demand for legal cannabis in the U.S. will remain strong throughout the decade, with growth coming from newer markets.”

Regulatory Changes Needed For Continued Growth

The forecast projecting continued growth of regulated cannabis sales was welcomed by executives in the cannabis industry. Some noted, however, that the industry’s continued growth will depend on regulatory changes that permit cannabis businesses to operate like those in any other sector, including engaging in interstate commerce and access to banking services.

David Craig, chief marketing officer of Missouri licensed cannabis producer Illicit Gardens, said “It should be clear by now that cannabis isn’t going anywhere.”

“If the federal government is going to drag its feet on descheduling, then it’s up for the states to take the lead in removing regulatory hurdles to operators, especially multi-state ones,” Craig wrote in an email. “What most outside the industry don’t realize is the extreme burden operating without uniform standards across legal states.”

“It’s time for a coalition of states to come together and standardize the basics: packaging and labeling requirements, compliance fundamentals, marketing, and other restrictions,” he added. “Operating even in two contiguous states right now is practically the same as operating in two different countries. Resolving those disparities is an easy win for business and government alike.”

Sarah Carter, communications director at Symple Seeds, said that it is “fantastic to see the continued growth of the legal cannabis industry.” 

“This significant increase of $2.6 billion from the previous year underscores the momentum and potential within the market.” Carter wrote in an email to High Times. “However, amidst this success, it’s crucial to acknowledge the persistent challenge of limited access to banking for cannabis businesses. This obstacle not only hinders the industry’s ability to operate efficiently but also poses risks in terms of safety and transparency.”

Legislation that would allow businesses in the regulated cannabis industry to access traditional banking services has been passed in the U.S. House of Representatives more than half a dozen times in recent years. An updated version of the bill, known as the Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation Act is pending before the U.S. Senate. In a statement last fall, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said that he intends “to bring the SAFER Banking Act to the Senate floor with all due speed.”

“Addressing this banking issue is paramount for unlocking the full potential of the cannabis sector,” said Carter. “With proper access to banking services, businesses can streamline operations, improve financial transparency, and foster greater investor confidence. Moreover, it would facilitate responsible business practices and compliance with regulatory requirements.”

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