Cannabis Sales Overview: How Much Money Did Cannabis Earn in 2020?

cannabis sales overview how much money did cannabis earn in 2020

Marijuana Business Daily reported retail cannabis sales were on track to rise 40% in June 2020, with sales that could reach nearly $37 billion by 2024. But how much money did cannabis earn in 2020?

Mid-way through the year, expectations for medical and recreational cannabis consumption in the US were impressive. MJ Biz Daily claimed that the sales were on track to exceed $15 billion by the end of the year, which is an increase of around 40% compared to 2019’s sales.

Why were the sales expected to hit such ‘high’ levels?

The coronavirus pandemic was the answer.

Government officials deemed cannabis ‘essential’ during the pandemic. While spending on adult-use cannabis in tourist-driven markets remained the same, the cannabis sales in almost every domestic MMJ market and markets that aren’t driven by tourist dollars have increased.

Some of the spendings were the result of unemployed workers. Unemployment benefits meant $600 weekly, which could have been allocated towards cannabis.

Medical marijuana programs saw sales increases, too. Industry growth came from gains in the adult-use markets, as well. Florida, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Oklahoma all have thriving new MMJ markets that contributed to the sales. Even with recently legalized adult-use sales states like Massachusetts, Michigan, and Illinois selling less cannabis, the new MMJ markets offset the loss with impressive sales.

But what else could have driven cannabis sales in 2020?

Cannabis Sales in 2020: What Fueled Them?

Pew Research reported that 67% of Americans believed cannabis should be legal in 2020. While still illegal federally, cannabis legalization support continued its growth. This could have fueled marijuana sales in 2020.

California’s marijuana industry grew significantly that year, recording its highest earnings at that point. Cali’s cannabis market accounted for $5.6 billion in sales, which is a significant expansion compared to the state’s 2019 sales of $3.1 billion.

Colorado also had a great year, with its 2020 marijuana sales reaching nearly half of Cali’s 2019 sales at $1.5 billion. According to Statista, of Colorado’s 2020 marijuana sales, it had $0.3 billion in medical sales.

Colorado’s cannabis sales rose by 26% in 2020, exceeding $2.1 billion. Of these sales, adult-use cannabis made up $1.7 billion worth, growing beyond 2019’s $1.4 billion in recreational marijuana sales.

Let’s not forget, at the beginning of 2020, the US had 11 states legally selling marijuana. These states included Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, Washington, Oregon, Michigan, California, Colorado, Alaska, and Nevada.

Illinois alone dispensed $784 million worth of cannabis after starting adult-use sales in January 2020. But the state’s records highlight recreational sales hit $669 million in 2020, with medical cannabis sales going beyond $365 million. This was the state’s first year offering adult-use cannabis.

Leafly reported that legalization created 243,700 legal and full-time cannabis jobs in 2020. This was a 15% increase from 2019 as the industry added over 33,700 jobs throughout the US.

Cannabis Sales in 2020 vs. 2019

Cannabis sales in 2019 were significantly less than in 2020. According to BDS Analytics, while 2019’s sales rose by 45.7% compared to 2018, 2020 cannabis sales exceeded 2019 by around 38.8%. US cannabis sales exceeded $17.5 billion in 2020, seemingly dwarfing the $12.1 billion the country sold in 2019.

But this doesn’t account for illegal cannabis sales.

The black market is immense and continues growing because of overregulation and excessive costs passed from businesses to consumers. INC reported that the US had approximately $46 billion in black market cannabis sales in 2020.

Worldwide cannabis sales are also important to consider when calculating industry growth. Throughout the world, marijuana sales grew by 48%, reaching nearly $21.3 billion in sales.

The majority of these sales were from California and Colorado. Combined, these two states experienced beyond $1 billion in sales growth in 2020.

Marijuana Sales in 2020 Summary

Legal cannabis sales in the US in 2020 were beyond what we could have hoped for; the impressive growth the market experienced solidified cannabis’s place in the US economy. The top four states with the highest sales include California, Florida, Colorado, and Oklahoma. But this isn’t said to discredit the sales other states experienced.

As the market continues to grow, we’ll continue offering insight into its expansion. What state are you from? Have you noticed this budding industry gaining traction where you’re living?

Louis Levey is the Content Success Manager and Founder at No Strings Content. He's passionate about helping cannabis businesses use content to attract, educate, and convert audiences. His hometown is Boca Raton, Florida, but he currently lives and works remotely in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

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