Pot by the Numbers: U.S. Weed Statistics

Statistics don't lie, no matter how high they say you are.

The contemporary cannabis movement is a numbers game. Headlines surface daily to tout the new weed scene as America’s next great economic engine, and where the cool crowd is to be found. A significant portion of each day’s marijuana-related stories—even simple click-bait—is built on real data and statistics to substantiate the heady claims.

In the interests of saving time and bypassing editorial interference, the Internet's most-compelling weed-related data-points have been crunched below—for your quick comprehension and easy digestion.

North American Cannabis Consumers Spent $6.9 Billion on Legal Marijuana Products in 2016

Implications: The addition of legal marijuana markets in new states, a growing and wide-ranging array of product offerings, and a relaxed societal view toward cannabis boosted weed expenditures 34 percent from 2015.

Speculation: The more than $6 billion spent on weedy goods is a massive sum, but the industry is expected to grow spending to more than $20 billion by 2021.

Source: “The State of Legal Cannabis Markets,” 5th Edition; BDS Analytics/Arcview Group

More Than Half of the United States Has Approved or Enacted Legal Cannabis Markets

Implications: State-by-state cannabis legislation is trending more progressive. The 2016 election resulted in the addition of seven (of nine) states with cannabis-related ballot initiatives receiving a yes vote, bringing the the total number of states with medical marijuana laws to 29; and legal recreational use to eight. 

Speculation: California, which in November approved Proposition 64, The Adult Use of Marijuana Act, is expected—on its own—to triple the national tally of legal cannabis industry revenues. 

Source: KINDLAND / Marijuana Business Daily

The Average Cannabis Consumer Spends $645-per-Year on Marijuana Products

Implications: Seattle, Washington-based provider of industry intelligence analytics, Headset, took a look at the spending habits of marijuana consumers enrolled in Washington dispensary loyalty programs. According to Headset, "Customers in their 80s spend the most per trip, with a median spend per trip of $64. Customers in their 40s, however, spent the most last year: a median of $823." 

Speculation: By looking at the spending habits of a diverse consumer demographic, Headset determined that a majority of consumers purchase flower, over other product categories, with pre-rolled joints dominating purchases made by dispensary shoppers in their 20s.

Source: “What Does The Average Cannabis Consumer Look Like?” / Headset

States Still Spend More Than $3 Billion Annually Enforcing Marijuana Laws

Implications: According to the Drug Policy Alliance, more than 650,000 people were arrested on marijuana-related charges in 2015, mostly for possession. This number accounts for nearly half of all drug arrests.

Speculation: This jarring statistic uncovers the racism still present in the country's marijuana laws, as a disproportionate number of the 650,000 weed-arrests in 2015 involved black or hispanic people. Even legal weed hasn't shaken this discriminatory skeleton just yet. Some inveterate optimists hopeful for a future free of racial inequity have pointed to California's Proposition 64 as a starting point.

Source: Drug Policy Alliance

The Colorado Cannabis Industry Is Worth More Than Gold-Mining, Had a $2.4 Billion Impact on 2015 State Economy

Implications: Seemingly not enough can be said about the positive impact legal pot has had on the Centennial State's profit margins. In 2015, retail marijuana sales topped the total output of major sectors of the economy, including crop farming, residential construction, and even gold ore mining. 

Speculation: The Colorado marijuana market is expected to generate more than $1.52 billion in total sales value by 2020, with a majority of the earned revenues coming from flower sales. With the 2016-passing of Denver's Initiative 300, which legalizes social use, cannabis should only become even more normalized in the mainstream.

Source: "Economic Impact of Legalization in Colorado," / Marijuana Policy Group

More Than Half of U.S. Adults Favor Legalization

Implications: The number of tax-paying, hard-working Americans in favor of legalizing cannabis has grown to more than half of all U.S. adults. According to Pew Research Center data, 57 percent of Americans think weed should be legal, a number that has grown from just 12 percent when Pew first polled on the issue in 1969. 

Speculation: In general, younger Americans (millennials and Gen X'ers ) believe that using cannabis should not make one a criminal; so this number should actually increase even more in the coming years. Pew data shows too that nearly two-thirds of police officers favor the relaxing of marijuana laws. 

Source: Pew Research Center

Today's Weed Is Better, Lab Tested, Can Be Stronger Than Ever

Implications:  Improved and innovative cultivation methods and technology have changed the weed-growing game completely. Which isn't to say that legalized weed is solely responsible for increased THC-content. According to the Drug Policy Alliance, weed in non-legal states can actually be more potent, because "when access to a particular substance is sporadic, risky and limited, both consumers and producers are incentivized to use or sell higher potency material." Also, potency limits on flowers, concentrates, edibles, and everything else––such as in Oregon––contribute to less-gutsy weed. 

Speculation: Evolving consumption methods indicate rising popularity for concentrates that can be engineered to deliver instant and predictable, but also more-intense highs. According to Headset, hash oil intended for consumption-via-vaporizer is one of the fastest growing product categories.

Sources: Drug Policy Alliance / Headset / SC Labs

If there's anything to be learned from all these stats, it's that your "typical" cannabis consumer isn't really typical at all. Canna-curious people of all ages are getting into the weed game and doing so methodically and creatively. In general, the future of weed looks expansive, just, and more accessible than ever.