This is a case in which a Venn diagram may just be two overlapping circles: A new report indicates Americans spend nearly as much on legal marijuana as they do on Taco Bell. Data compiled by Marijuana Business Daily shows spending on the combined legal recreational and medicinal weed industries has eclipsed spending on e-cigarettes by about $5 billion, and could soon rival yearly revenue figures from the NFL.
Americans reportedly spent between $8.6 and $10 billion on legal marijuana last year, which is just shy of the $10.8 billion spent at Taco Bell. (The report doesn’t note whether this revenue comes from the exact same set of consumers.) But cute coincidence aside, the figures indicate just how much of an economic driver legal marijuana is, on par with a major fast-food chain. Marijuana Business Daily even notes marijuana spending could surpass Americans’ total spending on gym memberships by 2023. A word of caution: We’ll need those gym memberships, given all the munchies-induced Crunchwraps.
Most of the spending growth on legal cannabis over the next year will come as more states legalize its medical use, but the report notes that long-term revenue will be mostly in the recreational sector. The Food And Drug Administration recently held its first public hearings on regulation of CBD, or cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive component derived from cannabis, potentially paving the way for its legal inclusion in food, beverage, and wellness products. By 2023, sales of legal marijuana as a whole are expected to grow roughly 200%. With the black market factored in, marijuana is estimated to be a $50-$60 billion industry, nearly on par with wine ($72 billion). All the more reason, economically at the least, to legalize and tax that spending.