A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that recreational and medical marijuana legalization does not lead to increased youth consumption. In fact, researchers found that legalization actually leads to lower youth consumption rates.
The study found that in states where recreational marijuana had been legal for two years or more, there was an associated decrease in marijuana use.
According to researchers, “medical marijuana law (MML) adoption was associated with a 6% decrease in the odds of current marijuana use and a 7% decrease in the odds of frequent marijuana use.”
The study further concluded that “estimates of the association between the opening of the first recreational dispensary and marijuana use were qualitatively similar” Meaning, that there’s a clear link between the first marijuana dispensaries opening and a decrease in teen use.
The overall association between legal recreational marijuana and marijuana use among adolescents was “statistically indistinguishable from zero.”
Critics of marijuana legalization often cite concerns about increased youth marijuana use in support of prohibition or more restrictive cannabis laws.
Researchers analyzed data compiled from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey from 1993 to 2017 in ten medical or adult-use states.
The JAMA results are consistent with other studies on youth marijuana use after legalization. Earlier this year, a federal study by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (CNES) found that states that have legalized adult-use marijuana did not see an increase in either youth marijuana use or availability.
A study published in JAMA Pediatrics in 2019 produced the same findings.
“Consistent with the results of previous researchers, there was no evidence that the legalization of medical marijuana encourages marijuana use among youth. Moreover, the estimates reported…that marijuana use among youth may actually decline after legalization for recreational purposes.”
Additionally, data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the number of adolescents admitted to drug treatment programs for marijuana-related issues has fallen in states with legal adult-use marijuana.
Cannabis sales during coronavirus shutdowns haven’t been the same in every state, with newer cannabis markets seeming to fair better than established markets that depend on tourism.
Despite a statewide stay-at-home order issued on March 23, Washington state saw record-breaking cannabis sales in April. Recreational marijuana sales increased 20% compared to April 2019, generating $106 million. Adult-use cannabis sales in Washington during March amounted to $99 million.
According to Marijuana Business Daily, Washington is a good test state to see if cannabis is “recession-proof” because it has a relatively mature market that generates a higher portion of sales from locals.
States like Colorado generate a higher amount of cannabis sales from tourists, so even with the leveling off of sales in the state in recent years, Colorado should expect to see a dip in cannabis revenue.
“Estimates prepared for the Department of Revenue suggest that tourists accounted for 7 to 9 percent of marijuana consumption in Colorado between 2014 and 2017,” according to a state budgeting report.
Adult-use cannabis sales in Colorado during April 2020 generated $91 million, a 16% decrease as compared to the same time in 2019
While California saw a modest gain in cannabis sales in April, monthly sales growth was less than before the pandemic. In March, Californians bought $276 million in recreational cannabis, an increase of 53% compared to March 2019. In April, sales equaled $248 million, an increase of only 17%.
With travel all but grounded during the pandemic, Nevada’s cannabis businesses have been hit hard by the lack of tourism. Adult-use cannabis sales fell 26% in the state, earning $38 million in sales in April, down from $54 million in March. According to Will Adler, Director of the Sierra Cannabis Coalition, 80% of recreational and medical marijuana sales in Nevada are generated from tourists.
Illinois’ adult-use cannabis market launched in January, with a record-setting $39.2 million in sales. April’s adult-use marijuana sales didn’t top January’s numbers, but they were still higher than average. In April, Illinois sold nearly $37.3 million in recreational cannabis, $2.6 million more than was sold in March.
In Oklahoma, residents bought a record amount of medical marijuana, increasing tax collections by more than 25%. The Oklahoma Tax Commission received $9.8 million in state taxes in April. By comparison, the state generated $7.8 million in medical marijuana tax revenue in March. According to The Oklahoman, medical marijuana dispensaries sold $61.4 million worth of medical cannabis in April or nearly $217 per licensed patient.
Bud Scott, executive director of the Oklahoma Cannabis Industry Association, credits people staying home with the increase in medical marijuana sales.
“With the stay-home order in place, and medical marijuana dispensaries being categorized as essential health services, Oklahoma patients were afforded the ability to take their medicine on a more regular basis and sample a broader range of available medicines,” Scott said.
Cannabis users looking for relief from stress and anxiety could account for increases in marijuana sales that don’t rely on tourism.
“I’ve probably medicated more these past few months. You’ve got people staying home and getting stimulus checks, and what are they spending it on? Things that help keep them calm and collected,” Keith Wiley, owner of Native Brothers Dispensary, told The Oklahoman.
After a slow start in 2019, the cannabis market in Canada is taking off, in large part thanks to marijuana edibles. Canada legalized adult-use marijuana in October 2018, but it wasn’t until a year later that marijuana edibles entered the marketplace.
Canadians are cannabis curious
Data from Mintel, a Canadian market intelligence agency, shows that the Canadian cannabis market has a large number of potential users. Six in 10 (59%) of Canadians report that they are currently using and/or interested in using cannabis.
27% of Canadians used cannabis within the first six months of legalization.
Cannabis edibles entice new consumers to the marijuana marketplace
Marijuana edibles are of huge interest to Canadian cannabis consumers and non-consumers alike.
“Edibles and drinkables can be a great introductory way for new users to familiarize themselves with cannabis and better understand the cannabis experience, potentially leading to using other forms of the product,” said Scott Stewart, Senior Research Analyst at Mintel.
32% of non-cannabis users said that they are ‘open to trying it.’ That number jumps when it comes to marijuana edibles. Among potential cannabis users, 66% of non-users said they are interested in edible and drinkable cannabis.
When it comes to age demographics, potential cannabis users showed similar levels of interest in marijuana edibles, with 47% of 20-34-year-olds, 49% of 30-50-year-olds, and 48% of those aged 55+.
“The key to future growth for many consumer industries will be to convert more of the consumers who are open to but not current users of cannabis; their hesitance to try cannabis was a contributor to the relatively low sales in 2019, but the legalization of edibles and drinkables in October 2019 will play a major role in 2020’s success,” said Stewart.
Canadians look to marijuana for health and wellness benefits
According to Mintel, Canadians are more interested in the health and wellness benefits of cannabis over its recreational uses.
- Nearly half (46%) of cannabis consumers said that they use it to have fun, but an even higher percentage said that they use cannabis as a wellness product.
- More than half (62%) of cannabis consumers said that they use it to relax and relieve stress and anxiety (54%).
- Additionally, 42% of cannabis consumers said that they use marijuana to improve sleep, and 39% use it to improve their mood.
- 42% of non-cannabis users said that they would consider using cannabis to relieve pain, while 25% said that they would use it to improve sleep.
- The four biggest barriers for non-cannabis users were the smell (37%), smoke (36%), health concerns (28%), and lacking knowledge about how to consume cannabis (41%), all of which could potentially be overcome with time, education, and support of brands.
“New product innovation in the cannabis market has already begun to tear down some of the barriers related to wider cannabis consumption. In addition to edibles and drinkables that do not involve smell or smoke – two of the main complaints cannabis non-users have about the product – devices like vaporizers or vape pens, which create a vapor instead of smoke, serve to minimize these unwanted byproducts.
“Our research shows that many Canadians view cannabis as a very complex and intimidating product, and the lack of understanding leads many to avoid it entirely. Brands can navigate this by using online platforms and in-store employees to help educate consumers about cannabis. Strict laws around marketing cannabis mean that brands have to be very careful about their approach, but using factual statements to help educate and familiarize potential consumers with cannabis is a good way of establishing a trusted position in the market,” said Stewart.
At the beginning of 2020, three states already have marijuana legislation appearing on ballots this November. South Dakotans will have a double dose of marijuana initiatives, as voters decide on both medical and adult-use legalization. Medical marijuana is on the ballot in Mississippi, and New Jersey will give legalizing recreational marijuana another go.
Medical and Recreational marijuana will be on South Dakota’s ballot
This November, South Dakota will be the first state to vote on the legalization of both medical and recreational marijuana on the same ballot.
The ballot initiative for legalizing adult-use marijuana was given the official go-ahead by South Dakota’s Secretary of State earlier this week. South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws submitted over 50,000 signatures in support of the initiative, well over the number required to make it on the ballot.
If voters approve the adult-use ballot measure, it will allow adults 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of cannabis as well as cultivation of up to three marijuana plants. The South Dakota Department of Revenue would issue licenses for manufacturers, testing facilities, and retailers. Sales tax on recreational sales would be 15%.
“The adult-use legalization initiative will greatly benefit the people of South Dakota by ending the injustice of arresting otherwise law-abiding adults for marijuana offenses. It will focus law enforcement resources on fighting serious crime, generate new tax revenue for the state, and create jobs,” said Marijuana Policy Project deputy director Matthew Schweich in a press release.
An initiative for medical marijuana will also be put to voters this November after New Approach South Dakota submitted more than 30,000 signatures to the state.
Marijuana advocates in South Dakota expect some opposition to legalization from state Republicans. Gov. Kristi Noem (R) vetoed a hemp legalization bill last year.
Voters will decide on legalizing medical marijuana in Mississippi
An initiative to create a medical marijuana program in Mississippi has received enough signatures to appear on the 2020 ballot.
Ballot Initiative 65 would legalize medical marijuana for 22 qualifying conditions, including cancer, chronic pain, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Each medical marijuana patient would be allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis per 14-day period.
Mississippians for Compassionate Care (MCC) collected more than 214,000 signatures.
“The polling is extremely positive,” MCC spokesperson Jamie Grantham said. “It polls above 77 percent, with every age group, religious affiliation, political affiliation, and other groups. Also, to that point, we saw the overwhelming support from the number of signatures we received.”
Gov. Phil Bryant (R) and the Mississippi State Board of Health oppose medical marijuana. Lawmakers will have four months to approve, reject, or amend the proposal.
Adult-use marijuana referendum on 2020 ballot in New Jersey
The New Jersey state legislature passed a resolution that will put the question of marijuana legalization to voters in November.
The referendum would legalize possession of marijuana for adults 21 and older and would be subject to a 6.625 percent state sales tax.
“We’re optimistic that next November, New Jersey voters will replace an eight-decade-long policy disaster with a far more sensible approach to marijuana,” said Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project.
Last March, legislation that would have legalized adult-use cannabis in New Jersey was pulled from a vote in the state legislature after failing to secure enough support from lawmakers.
Recreational marijuana officially lit in Michigan
On Dec. 1, Michigan became the first state in the Midwest to allow recreational marijuana sales.
On the first day of sales, the state’s three licensed retail marijuana shops generated more than $200,000 in cannabis sales and an estimated $36,000 in tax revenue.
“The consumer demand was off the charts,” said Rick Thompson, who serves on the Michigan NORML board. “Each of the provisioning centers had lines out the door and around the block. Most had police officers on hand to ensure people were safe from traffic.”
Michigan voters approved Proposal 1 to legalize adult-use marijuana in 2018. Sales were originally slated to begin Jan. 1, 2020, but the state moved up the date in an effort to reduce black market sales.
1,400 of Michigan’s 1,800 cities and townships do not allow marijuana sales. Detroit has delayed recreational sales until Jan. 31.
Adults 21 and older can purchase up to 2.5 ounces of flower, including up to 15 grams of concentrate.
Marijuana Industry Daily projected that marijuana sales in Michigan are expected to reach $1.4 billion to $1.7 billion per year when the market reaches maturity.
Illinois to ring in the new year with legal adult-use cannabis
Jan. 1, 2020, will mark the beginning of more than just a new decade in Illinois as the state’s first recreational marijuana dispensaries are set to open on New Year’s Day.
Illinois was the first state to legalize recreational marijuana through the state legislature rather than through a voter-approved ballot initiative.
“As the first state in the nation to fully legalize adult-use cannabis through the legislative process, Illinois exemplifies the best of democracy—a bipartisan and deep commitment to better the lives of all of our people,” Pritzker said. “Legalization of adult-use cannabis brings an important and overdue change to our state, and it’s the right thing to do.”
In June, Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) signed a bill that allows adults 21 and older to possess and purchase cannabis. In addition to legalizing adult-use cannabis, the new law includes provisions to expunging prior marijuana convictions and the creation of social equity programs.
Recreational marijuana will have a graduated tax rate according to the THC content:
- Flower and cannabis-infused products with less than 35% THC will be taxed at 10% of the purchase price
- Cannabis-infused products and edibles with more than 35% THC will be taxed at 20% of the purchase price
- Flower with more than 35% THC will be taxed at 25% of the purchase price
“The most historic aspect of this is not just that it legalizes cannabis for adults but rather the extraordinary efforts it takes to reduce the harm caused by the failed war on marijuana and the communities it hurt the most,” said state Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D).
Illinois is the eleventh state to legalize recreational cannabis.
Massachusetts sells $400 million in marijuana during first year of recreational sales
During its first year of legal recreational marijuana, Massachusetts raked in nearly $400 million in sales despite having only 36 licensed retail shops.
For comparison, during the first year of its recreational marijuana market, sales in Colorado amounted to $300 million with 306 licensed retailers.
Data released from the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) shows that daily sales regularly exceed $1 million, and often exceed $2 million. At its current pace, adult-use sales could exceed $1 billion by 2021.
The lack of marijuana dispensaries in the state is something CCC Chairman Steven Hoffman says the Commission is planning to address.
“I have no expectation there will be a retail store on every corner, but we have a lot more geographic expansion to do,” Hoffman said. “That’s the biggest part of our job.”
The CCC has approved an additional 53 provisional licenses for cannabis retailers, with another 166 applications pending.
Cannabis use among teens has declined in states with legal recreational marijuana, according to a new paper published in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics. Researchers found that in states with legal adult-use cannabis, there was an 8% drop in the number of youths who said they used marijuana within the last 30 days and a 9% drop in the number of high-schoolers who said that they had used at least 10 times in the past 30 days.
The research was led by D. Mark Anderson, an economist at Montana State University, along with colleagues from the University of Colorado, the University of Oregon, and San Diego University. Researchers analyzed data that spanned 25 years, from 1993 to 2017, that included data from about 1.4 million high school students. The data was collected by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s annual Youth Risk Behavior Surveys, which are administered to students every two years.
Researchers did not find a significant decrease in teen marijuana use in states with legal medical cannabis.
“Consistent with the results of previous researchers, there was no evidence that the legalization of medical marijuana encourages marijuana use among youth. Moreover, the estimates reported [by the Youth Risk Behavior Surveys] showed that marijuana use among youth may actually decline after legalization for recreational purposes.”
The researchers acknowledged that while there’s an association between legal adult-use marijuana, there isn’t a causal connection.
“Because many recreational marijuana laws have been passed so recently, we do observe limited post-treatment data for some of these states,” Anderson said. “In a few years, it would make sense to update our estimates as more data become available.”
One possible reason for the decline in teen pot use is that a regulation cannabis market reduces the availability of black market marijuana. In states where recreational marijuana is legal, “it is more difficult for teenagers to obtain marijuana as drug dealers are replaced by licensed dispensaries that require proof of age.”
Nationally, teen cannabis use has increased from 0.6% in 1991 to 6.3% in 2017, according to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health.
Voters in Massachusetts legalized adult-use marijuana back in 2016, and two long years later, the state’s first recreational dispensaries opened Tuesday.
Adult-use pot shops opened in Leicester and Northampton, making them the first retail stores on the East Coast to have legalized recreational sales. The first customer at the dispensary in Northampton was Mayor David Narkewicz, who said that he would be displaying his purchase “because it is historically significant.”
“There has been marijuana use going on in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for a long, long time. What’s changing is it’s now being regulated. It’s now being tested. It’s now being strictly monitored. That’s really the major change that’s happening,” Narkewizc said.
The first customer at Leicester’s recreational marijuana shop was Stephen Mandile, a disabled Iraq War veteran treating PTSD, a traumatic brain injury and chronic pain with cannabis.
“It’s an honor, something amazing. I probably dreamed about it back in high school that this day would happen sometime. I’ll be smoking some history later on today,” Mandile said.
Under Massachusetts law, adults 21 and older can buy up to an ounce of flower or its equivalent in concentrate, or 20 servings of edibles. Edibles can contain no more than 5 milligrams of THC for a single serving, and a package of edibles can contain no more than 20 individual servings.
Recreational marijuana is subject to a 6.25% state sales tax, 10.75% state excise tax, and 3% local tax. Medical marijuana is untaxed in Massachusetts.
The rollout licensed adult-use dispensaries in Massachusetts will continue to be slow. Massachusetts’ Cannabis Control Commission issued licenses to two more dispensaries in Salem and Easthampton, and a third dispensary is expected to open in the near future in the town or Wareham near Cape Cod. More than half the state’s population lives in the greater Boston area, but as of now, there are no retail cannabis shops nearby.
Election Day is finally behind us, and there were big wins for marijuana legalization. Three of the four states that had cannabis on the ballot voted to end cannabis prohibition. Here’s how the votes played out in Michigan, North Dakota, Missouri, and Utah:
Michigan is the first state in the Midwest and the 10th in the country to approve recreational marijuana. Voters approved Proposal 1 by a 56-44 percent margin. Michiganders 21-and-older will legally be able to possess 2.5 ounces or less of marijuana or 15 grams of concentrate, grow up to 12 cannabis plants and store up to 10 ounces from those plants. There will be a 10% tax on adult-use marijuana sales, with revenue going towards regulatory and implementation costs, as well as to municipalities, clinical research, schools, and roads.
The measure takes effect ten days after election results are certified, but don’t expect to buy adult-use marijuana at the store until 2019 or 2020.
North Dakota was the only one of four states with cannabis initiatives to on the ballot to vote against marijuana legalization. Measure 3 was unlike other proposed cannabis legislation in that it would not have set limits on how much an adult 21-and-over could grow or possess and did not include language regarding regulation and taxes. Marijuana convictions would have been expunged.
The initiative was rejected by a 41-59 percent margin. Medical marijuana is already legal in North Dakota.
In Missouri, voters approved Amendment 2, which will amend the state constitution to allow medical marijuana. Amendment 2 was one of three medical marijuana initiatives on the ballot and passed with 65 percent approval. The other two initiatives, Amendment 3 and Proposition C, did not garner enough votes to pass.
Amendment 2 will allow doctors to prescribe medical cannabis for ten qualifying medical conditions and patients will be able to cultivate up to six plants. Medical marijuana in the state will be taxed at 4%, with tax revenue going toward regulatory costs and healthcare services for veterans.
Despite the Mormon church’s opposition to passing medical marijuana legislation in Utah, voters in the state approved Proposition 2. The approval of the initiative will allow adults with qualifying medical conditions (including PTSD, cancer, HIV, epilepsy, chronic pain, Crohn’s, Alzheimer’s, and ALS) to consume cannabis. Smoking marijuana will not be permitted, however, and all cannabis consumption must be in the form of edibles, tinctures, oils, or vaporizers.
Proposition 2 passed with a 53-47 percent margin and may have brought more Utahns to the polls. According to a poll released in October, 1 of 5 respondents cited the cannabis initiative as their primary motivation for participating in the election.
New data released by the Nevada Department of Taxation shows that the state made just over a half-billion dollars in its first year of adult-use cannabis sales.
The combined sales of medical, recreational, and cannabis-related products amounted to $529.9 in sales and netted the state $69.8 million in tax revenue–140 percent more than what the state expected to bring in.
Recreational cannabis sales totaled $424.9 million, generating $42.5 million in tax revenue during the 2017-2018 fiscal year. Before Nevada began adult-use cannabis sales last year, the state anticipated $265 million in recreational sales.
For comparison, Colorado sold $303 million worth of cannabis during its first full year of recreational sales. Washington sold $259 million, and Oregon sole $241 million.
Bill Anderson, executive director of the Nevada Department of Taxation, said in a press release that the cannabis industry “has not only exceeded revenue expectations, but proven to be a largely successful one from a regulatory standpoint.”
“We have not experienced any major hiccups or compliance issues,” he added. “As we move into fiscal year 2019, we expect to see continued growth in the industry by way of additional businesses opening up, and we expect revenues to continue to be strong.”
Adult-use cannabis sales began July 1, 2017, after voters approved Question 2 legalizing recreational marijuana in 2016.
There are 64 medical marijuana dispensaries in Nevada, and 61 of those dispensaries are also licensed to sell recreational marijuana. Nevada has authorized a maximum of 136 dispensaries.
Despite the huge sales numbers, State Senator Tick Segerblom thinks the numbers would be even higher if the state legalized consumption lounges. Currently, cannabis use is banned at casinos and other public venues, leaving tourists with few places to consume.
“You can’t encourage people to come to Nevada to buy marijuana, but tell them they can’t use it or take it home,” he said. “I think the hypocrisy is killing us.”
North Dakotans will vote on whether to legalize adult-use cannabis this November after pro-marijuana activists collected enough signatures to include the ballot measure in this year’s mid-term elections.
If voters approve the initiative, adults 21 and older will be able to possess and grow an unlimited amount of cannabis, no restrictions. The proposal would allow the implementation of a distribution and sales program for legal cannabis, and there would be a provision allowing for marijuana convictions to be expunged.
“This model is 100-percent plug-and-play. The cities, if they want to, can put zoning regs on it. But this is workable, implementable and executable from day one. That’s the biggest strength of this bill, in my opinion. It’s a true free-market, laissez-faire bill,” David Owen, chairman of Legalize ND, told Cannabis Business Times.
The petition to legalize recreational marijuana collected over 15,000 valid signatures, well over the required 13,452 signatures required to get the measure on November’s ballot.
NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri told Forbes, “We applaud the hard work and dedication from the campaign and countless volunteers on the ground in North Dakota who went door to door and out into their communities to gather the signatures required to put this on the ballot in November.
“Marijuana legalization is no longer a regional or partisan issue. Well over 60% of all Americans support ending our nation’s failed prohibition, and I expect North Dakota voters to send shockwaves across the country this fall when they join the growing contingent of states who have chosen the sensible path of legalization and regulation over prohibition and incarceration.”
North Dakota legalized medical marijuana in 2016 with 64% in support, but the state has been slow to implement the program. After two years of waiting, the North Dakota Department of Health plans to begin medical sales by the end of 2018 or early 2019.