Chart: Nationwide sales of adult-use cannabis further eclipse those of medical marijuana

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While the United States has three times as many state medical marijuana markets than adult-use programs, recreational sales are expected to be roughly 30% or more above MMJ in 2020.

Legal adult-use sales in the U.S. likely will top $10 billion this year, while medical sales are expected to bring in $5.8 billion-$7.1 billion, according to estimates from the eighth edition of the Marijuana Business Factbook, available now.

The gap between the two markets continues to grow, with 2019 MMJ sales estimates at $4 billion-$4.9 billion, compared with adult-use sales of $6.6 billion-$8.1 billion. Adult sales first eclipsed MMJ in 2018.

From 2012 to 2020, the number of medical markets in the United States more than doubled, from 18 to 37, while recreational markets increased from two to 12.

The barriers to access are a key reason why adult-use sales far outpace medical.

In most medical markets, for example, patients must have a qualifying condition certified by a physician who then recommends medical marijuana as a treatment.

For recreational markets, any adult 21 or older can make a purchase.

Growth in both the number of new markets and sales totals is expected to continue for recreational and medical cannabis, though expected advancements in some states have been delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

So far, five states have approved legalization ballot measures for the November election:

  • Arizona – adult use,
  • Mississippi – medical.
  • Montana – adult use.
  • New Jersey – adult use.
  • South Dakota – two separate measures for MMJ and adult use.

Jenel Stelton-Holtmeier can be reached at