Pot Legalization: The States Continue to Get the Job Done

In ancient Greek mythology, King Tantalus was condemned by the gods to stand in a pool of water under a fruit tree. Although the tree had low branches, he was never quite able to reach the fruit, and whenever he tried to drink the water, it receded.

Marijuana investors are similarly tantalized, as federal legalization in the U.S. always seems in sight…but out of reach.

Over the past two years, nationwide legalization of weed appeared within our grasp. Major legislative initiatives lifting the federal ban passed the Democratic-run U.S. House and were given decent odds of making it through the 50-50 Senate. If a normalization bill reached President Biden’s desk, he was expected to sign it.

That all changed with the November 2022 midterms.

The 118th Congress is bitterly divided. Marijuana-friendly Democrats control the Senate; anti-pot ultraconservatives are in charge of the House. Don’t expect major marijuana legislation on the federal level to get enacted for the next two years.

WATCH THIS VIDEO: The Weed Report: Where Cannabis Meets Capitalism

However, thanks to our federalist system, the states have stepped into the breach to legalize cannabis at a quickening pace. Uncle Sam has almost become a moot point. When the federal ban is inevitably lifted (and yes, it’s only a matter of time), pot stocks will surge. But you don’t have to wait for that epochal event.

According to a new report released February 21 by the research firm New Frontier Data, the U.S. legal cannabis market last year was worth $29 billion in annual sales combined across states where sale is legal for adult use and/or medical purposes. Sales in 2023 are expected to top $34 billion.

Based on New Frontier’s analysis of state legalization campaigns, nine states are showing a high probability of legalizing adult-use cannabis by 2030, while another nine seem likely to legalize medical cannabis.

Should all of these states succeed in their efforts to legalize weed, sales in just those new states alone would be an estimated $18 billion annually by 2030. Without counting any additional states’ legalizing cannabis either for medical or adult use by 2030, current legal markets will add an additional $29 billion in annual revenues over the next seven years.

The upshot: The marijuana industry’s growth is unstoppable, despite the inaction of Congress. The following map tells the story:

As of this writing, medical cannabis is legal in 37 states and adult-use (recreational) marijuana is legal in 21 states.

In a separate report released February 23, research firm BDSA forecasts that the global cannabis market is on track to reach $59.6 billion by 2027. According to the report:

  • The U.S. will experience strong growth driven by developing markets, particularly the adult-use markets of Missouri, New Jersey and New York.
  • By 2027, adult-use sales are forecast to contribute 78% of total global legal cannabis expenditures, up from 64% in 2022.
  • U.S. legal cannabis spending is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.3%, from $26.1 billion in 2022 to $44.5 billion in 2027, driven primarily by the New York, Florida, New Jersey and California markets.
  • Globally, cannabis markets beyond the U.S. and Canada are forecast to grow at a CAGR of 40% to $9.5 billion in 2027, up from $1.8 billion in 2022.

Public opinion polls show that a majority of Americans support the legalization of marijuana, both for recreational and medicinal purposes. And lawmakers covet the tax revenue generated by pot legal normalization.

The combination of increasing cannabis availability at the state level and persistent consumer demand is largely resistant to current economic uncertainty. Rising interest rates, elevated inflation, and recession fears are exerting scant negative effects on the cannabis boom.

Disheartened by the lack of federal action on marijuana? Don’t be. Until Washington, DC finally gets its act together, the states are rolling up their sleeves and getting the job done.

Editor’s Note: As I’ve just made clear, the marijuana industry is dynamic and rapidly expanding. State legalization is a juggernaut that Congress can’t stop.

Every portfolio should have exposure to cannabis-related companies. That’s why I’ve launched a service detailing how you can financially benefit from the consumer mainstreaming of weed.

Called Marijuana Profit Alert, my publication is your guide to reaping profits from the marijuana bonanza. Click here to learn more.

John Persinos is the editorial director of Investing Daily.

To subscribe to John’s video channel, click this icon: