It’s known by multiple names－marijuana, weed, pot and cannabis. But a new one could be “moneymaker” after legal sales of the drug in 2017 reached $8.5 billion in the United States and $9.5 billion worldwide, experts said.
The legal medical and recreational marijuana markets are projected to be worth $23.4 billion by 2022, according to cannabis research firm ArcView Group and BDS Analytics.
Thirty-three US states have legalized medical marijuana and 10 states and Washington, have legalized marijuana for recreational use by adults over 21.
Every state that has legalized recreational use of marijuana has first legalized it in a medical capacity.
A Gallup Poll in October showed 64 percent－or two in three US citizens－of those surveyed support legalizing pot. And a greater percentage, 85 percent, or nearly 9 of every 10 adults, believes that marijuana should be legalized for medical use, according to a Harris poll.
Employees cut harvested medical cannabis at Pharmocann, an Israeli medical cannabis company in northern Israel January 24, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]
US President Donald Trump has expressed support for allowing states to regulate marijuana independently.
US corporations are seeing green in the green leaf’s acceptance by the public. Marijuana went financially mainstream in 2018 when the Canadian company Tilray Inc became the first cannabis stock to go public on the Nasdaq in July.
Said Brian Shappell, editorial director for the National Institute for Cannabis Investors: “The type of investor we see now is everyone from Budweiser, who partnered with Canadian marijuana company Tilray, to make cannabis drinks to big tobacco firm Altria maker of Marlboros, who acquired Canada’s Cronus group. We’re getting the biggest fishes and the littlest fishes.”
Scotts Miracle-Gro－a traditional gardening-supply company lawn－in April 2018 paid $450 million for Sunlight Supply, a privately held distributor of gardening supplies that is a leader in hydroponics, a popular way to grow cannabis in water because it uses no soil.
Other alcoholic beverage makers are trying to add cannabis as an edgy ingredient as their traditional business slows.
Molson Coors Brewing Co has started a joint venture with Hydropothecary Corp to develop nonalcoholic, cannabis-infused beverages for the Canadian market.
Heineken NV’s Lagunitas craft-brewing label has launched a brand specialising in nonalcoholic drinks infused with THC, marijuana’s active ingredient.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is the part of the leaf from the hemp plant, which is a cousin of the marijuana plant and primarily used in fabric and construction.
Both hemp and marijuana are members of the cannabis sativa family. CBD does not cause psychoactive effects but can relieve pain and anxiety.
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the compound that gets users high, is in much greater concentrations in the marijuana plant than in hemp.
Cannabis was used in Chinese medicine thousands of years ago. Chinese surgeon Hua Tuo (c. 145-208) is credited with the first recorded use of cannabis as an anesthetic during surgery.
States that have legalized recreational marijuana are looking for it to produce tax revenues and jobs. In Massachusetts, the state legislature expects tax revenues to reach $63 million annually.
Combined sales medical and recreational marijuana in Colorado, the first state to legalize recreational use of marijuana in 2012, exceeded $1 billion as of August 2018, with tax revenue from those sales $200 million, according to the state.