- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Legal recreational and medical marijuana sales are outpacing previous estimates and slated to top nearly $10 billion in 2017, cannabis industry analysts said in a new report.

Retail marijuana sales are expected to reach $9.7 billion this year, up 33 percent from 2016, Arcview Market Research said in a midyear report released Wednesday.

“Our data shows positive indicators across the board for the legal cannabis industry, in North America and around the globe,” said Arcview editor-in-chief Tom Adams.

“The passage of the 2016 ballot initiatives and continued maturation of the existing Adult-Use markets are the primary drivers of the growth this year,” Mr. Adams said in a press release. “That’s nothing compared to what we can expect in 2018 and beyond from Nevada’s tourism, and California and Canada planning to launch Adult-Use sales in 2018.”

Voters in seven states legalized either recreational or medical marijuana in Nov. 2016, and laws allowing for either are currently on the books in 29 states and Washington, D.C., including five where retail or “adult-use” cannabis may be legally purchased from state-licensed pot shops: Alaska, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington state.

Arcview released its fifth annual State of Legal Marijuana Markets report in March and predicted at the time that cannabis markets will grow at a 27 percent compound annual growth rate through 2021.

The mid-year update released Wednesday revises the previous report and predicts the legal market will reach $24.5 billion by 2021 — a compound annual growth rate rate of 28 percent rather than 27.

“Aside from cryptocurrency, there is simply no other industry changing as rapidly or as unevenly as the cannabis sector,” said Arcview CEO Troy Dayton. “That makes capturing the data, predicting consumer behavior and forecasting political developments both extraordinarily difficult and complicated, and one of the most vital tools for investors, entrepreneurs and regulators trying to make sense of it all.”

The Trump administration has wrestled as recently as last week with regards to regulating marijuana in light states legalizing weed despite the federal government’s prohibition on pot.

The Department of Justice issued a memorandum during the Obama administration, the so-called “Cole Memo,” explaining how states may legalize weed without risking federal interference. President Trump’s Justice Department isn’t sure if it’ll keep the memo in place, however, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions said officials met last week to weigh its fate.

“It’s my view that the use of marijuana is detrimental and we should not give encouragement in any way to it,” Mr. Sessions said last week. “And it represents a federal violation which is in the law and is subject to being enforced, and our priorities will have to be focused on all the things and challenges that we face.”

California became the first state in the country to legalize medical marijuana in 1996, and in 2018 it will join the growing list of states where dispensaries can sell recreational pot to adult customers regardless of whether its been recommended by their doctor.

Los Angeles officials passed marijuana regulations Wednesday, likely giving the city the largest legal weed marketplace in the U.S. once retail sales start throughout the state in 2018.

Cannabis taxes in California alone are expected to earn the state up to $1 billion during the first year of legalization, according to previous estimates. 

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