The legal cannabis industry is comprised of the production and selling of the cannabis plant and products derived from it. Many companies involved in this sector began in supplying the medical market when that was all that was available, but have now expanded to servicing the retail markets that have opened up in Uruguay, Canada, and the United States. Some of the hottest growing product segments currently are vaping products, edible products, and CBD (a cannabis-derived, non-psychoactive chemical with reputed health and wellness benefits).

During the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, sales of cannabis products in the United States saw a large boost as consumers prepared for coming lockdowns. This demand has not been sustained and the industry in both the U.S. and Canada are facing serious headwinds due to oversupply. In Canada there is a glut of marijuana while in the U.S. the main issue is an oversupply of hemp planned for producing CBD products.

Biggest legal cannabis market
United States
Biggest cannabis company
Share of Americans that use cannabis
15 percent

Market size

More growth to come
Legal adult-use cannabis sales worldwide from 2020 to 2025* (in billion U.S. dollars)
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From 2013 to 2019 the global market for legal cannabis grew nearly fivefold reaching almost 15 billion U.S. dollars in value. With the continued opening of the U.S. market expected as well as the maturing of the Canadian and Latin American markets, the size of the industry is forecast to reach nearly 43 billion dollars by 2024.

Before the legalization of cannabis in the U.S. and Canada for recreational use, most of the legal spending was on medical use. By 2024 that is set to reverse.

Recreational cannabis in the U.S.
Recreational cannabis in Canada
Cannabis in Latin America

Market segments

Dried flower remains the preference
Retail sales share of recreational marijuana amid the coronavirus outbreak in California in 2020, by product type
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In California, the biggest legal cannabis market in the United States, dried flower remained the most preferred method of cannabis consumption, accounting for over 40 percent of state sales in May of 2020. Dried flower is used for the combustion and smoking of the cannabis plant to achieve the desired effects.

Coming on the heels of dried flower, vapor pens and edibles are making up an increasing share of the cannabis market, with vapor pens accounting for over a quarter of sales.

Recreational marijuana
CBD retail in the U.S.
Medical marijuana in the U.S.

Industry trends

CBD is a rising star
Dollar sales of cannabidiol (CBD) products in the United States from 2019 to 2026 (in million U.S. dollars)
Further details: Visit original statistic

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a chemical derivative of the cannabis plant that does not have the psychoactive effect of producing a high in the user. Nevertheless, it is one of the fastest growing products to come out of the commercialization of cannabis. Sales have exploded since the passing of the Farm Bill in 2018 which legalized the production of hemp.

Worth just 620 million U.S. dollars in 2018, CBD is forecast to reach sales nearing 24 billion dollars by 2023.

CBD retail
Cannabis edibles in the U.S. and Canada
Cannabis vaping in the U.S.

Industry leaders

Big players in a new market
U.S. market value of the leading companies in the cannabis industry in 2019 (in million U.S. dollars)
Further details: Visit original statistic

Although the legal cannabis market is still in its infancy, there are many large American companies vying for a spot of their own. The largest company, in terms of market cap, is Scotts Miracle-Gro, even though it is not first and foremost a cannabis company. Scotts Miracle-Gro has become one of the biggest players in the supply of hydroponic equipment needed for growing cannabis indoors. The next largest company is Curaleaf Holdings, whose business is solely sales of cannabis products.

U.S. cannabis company revenues
Canadian cannabis companies

Industry definition

Cannabis is a genus of plants, some of which produce psychoactive effects when ingested and others which do not (hemp). The cannabis industry produces products from both types of plants.

The legal cannabis industry is made up of companies that sell unprocessed cannabis as well as products derived from the plant in countries that have removed legal barriers for sale. Because the first legal market in many countries was medical only, many companies started out focusing on that field and have since branched out to offer products to the recreational market as well. Legalization of cannabis has given rise to a number of commercial products. There is of course plain dried flower, which is the traditional and still most common way to consume cannabis. Other growing segments are vaping, which involves heating the product to a level below combustion and edibles, which converts the cannabis into a form that can be swallowed by a consumer.


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