Reported legal cannabis sales grew by 279% between 2018 and 2020, according to state data and estimates collected by Grown In. In 2018, legal facilities sold $5.998 billion of cannabis products, but in just two years, legal sales rocketed to $16.782 billion. 

These totals were obtained through an exhaustive search of records from state agencies and public records. Many states do not provide sales totals, but do collect sales or excise taxes as a percentage of sales. Also, some states, such as Florida and Alaska, report total sales by weight, rather than by dollar amount, so estimates are possible by calculating against current average retail prices.

While Illinois and Michigan have received attention for each hitting $1 billion of sales in 2020, the biggest growth came in Florida and California, which sold an estimated $2.4 billion and an estimated $3.8 billion of cannabis respectively. Oklahoma, which has about a third of the population of Illinois, sold $803 million of cannabis last year.

“It’s shocking Florida is so high given its only medical sales,” said Kris Inton, Director of Basic Materials Research at Morningstar. 

Indeed, Florida is still a Medical-only state, which in 2018 sold only an estimated $389 million of cannabis. This last year has seen incredible growth.

Illinois, which still has only 91 dispensaries, should have much bigger sales, say analysts.

“Illinois is a really truncated market, it’s kneecapped by what it could be,” said Andy Seeger, Principal of Cannaconomist. “Illinois could be three times what it is. The only thing holding it back is the state,” because of delays of adding new dispensary licenses.

“There’s demand,” continued Seeger. “Every new market that opens, the demand is there. You can look at Oklahoma as the future model of demand in red states.”

Examining sales on a per capita basis provides a good idea of growth to come, suggested Inton. 

“Looking at it from a per capita perspective would tell you better how much a market has grown relative to others. Right now, the map largely looks like a function of population and how many years it’s been legalized,” said Inton.
“When you look at states that legalized earlier like Colorado and Oregon, it shows there’s a lot of runway left even in states that have already legalized recreational. It’s only like 4-5 grams per person in places like Illinois and California. Probably a combination of most users still in the black market and dispensary number still relatively low compared to potential.”

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Editor Mike is an itinerate reporter, recovering political consultant, and strategy game devotee.