By Jennifer Mann
Just how quickly has the medical marijuana industry grown?
Here’s one indication: In three years, the portion of the U.S. population living in states with medical cannabis dispensaries has more than doubled.
In 2011, just 22% of residents lived in states with existing dispensaries. By the end of 2014, 46% of the population resides in states with operating or planned dispensaries.
With that expanded map has come an avalanche of business opportunities, which has helped create an industry that will hit up to $2.6 billion in revenues this year, according to the 2014 Marijuana Business Factbook.
In 2011, 16 states and Washington DC had medical marijuana laws on the books. But dispensaries operated in just eight of those markets. Several states – including Alaska, Hawaii and Nevada – banned them, while others were still in the process of setting up an MMJ business infrastructure.
Today, 23 states have legalized medical marijuana, and all of them except Alaska and Hawaii either have dispensaries now or are laying down the groundwork for them to open in the near future.
The number of MMJ markets with dispensaries will likely continue to grow in the coming years as more states legalize medical cannabis via the ballot box or through legislatures, further boosting the percentage of the population exposed to the industry.
Jennifer Mann can be reached at [email protected]