Marijuana Demand Could Top Ice Cream in U.S.

“One scoop or two?” may soon be replaced by the question, “One bud or two?”

That’s right. Marijuana is on pace to someday surpass the sale of ice cream, in the United States. Recent research by Marijuana Business Daily indicates that if cannabis were to be federally decriminalized, the $4 billion gray market industry would earn more than the beloved frozen treat.

If you look at the raw data, legitimized sales (recreational and medicinal) are already at around 80% of the $5.1 billion ice cream market. When considering the estimated sales on the black market (another $40 billion +), the race isn’t even close. Yep. Cannabis is 10 times more popular than ice cream.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Let’s gain some perspective. Annual movie ticket sales come in at around $11 billion. Paid music streaming sites garner only $2.5 billion. Those poor Girl Scouts only bring in around $775 million for their delicious cookies. Most shocking to patrons of The Gallery may be the fact that cannabis sales dwarf that of Funyuns, Cheetos, and Doritos with their paltry sales of only $4.9 billion.

Current trends of state legalization are poised to make some significant impacts on the economy. Research from New Frontier Data concludes the industry will add around a 250,000 jobs to the U.S. economy by the year 2020. In contrast, employment in the manufacturing sector is estimated to decline by over 800,000 jobs by the year 2024, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). BLS estimates also show a decrease of 47,000 utilities jobs and a downsizing of jobs in the government of 383,000.

The numbers are estimates, but the growth appears logical. Only half the states in the U.S. have some form of legal marijuana markets, with most of those being for medicinal purposes (Legal Medicinal States). Only seven states have decriminalized recreational consumption of the plant. As mainstream acceptance of medical cannabinoids grows, so should nationwide medical legalization. Because every state which legalized the plant for recreation started with authorizing it for medical purposes, it would be fair to say that more states will follow up with total legalization.

If the industry has one thing going for it, it’s the fact that lawmakers like industries which generate revenue and create jobs. Incumbent politicians are more likely to win re-election when the economy is strong. In the future, ice cream may not deliver the votes.

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