RETAIL CANNABIS sales are expected to grow by around 45% in the United States this year from 2019, and nearly triple by 2024, according to projections in the 2020 “Marijuana Business Factbook.”

But figures for this year may be off the mark as the report was written before the COVID-19 pandemic initially spurred a large spike in cannabis sales after most states issued shelterat-home orders.

However, sales could reverse once the additional $600 a week in federal unemployment benefits runs out at the end of July.

The new study predicts that sales could reach as much as $37 billion in 2024, up from between $10.6 billion and $13 billion in 2019. Sales of medical marijuana have continued to grow in nearly every market in the U.S.

While it’s still not clear how the pandemic will affect cannabis sales this year and perhaps next year, the long-term growth trajectory remains unchanged, according to the report.

That’s because it is expected that more states will adopt medical marijuana as well as adult recreational use laws, which will open up new markets.

Also, some medical marijuana markets like Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Florida and Maryland are experiencing a surge in sales (in Oklahoma alone, 8% of the state’s population has registered as medical marijuana patients).

The report predicts that medical marijuana sales in Florida and Oklahoma will surpass $1 billion each by 2021.

Those new markets have more than offset declines in medical cannabis sales in states that recently implemented adult recreational use cannabis, including Illinois, Massachusetts and Michigan.

As for recreational cannabis markets, sales in Colorado and Washington have stabilized after a few years of decline.

Two new recreational use states – Michigan and Illinois – are in their infancy and growing slowly, yet are also expected to boom once the markets have more fully developed.

Currently, both states have few retail outlets that sell cannabis, but the sales picture is expected to improve once more stores open in those states.

This is why the report also predicts that Michigan and Illinois will see annual sales of $2 billion each by 2024.

California sales up despite headwinds

Operators in the largest cannabis state, California, continue to face headwinds due to the complex regulatory environment and as they contend with high taxes and licensing rules that vary from one municipality to another, in addition to rigid bureaucracy that governs the industry.

Despite that, cannabis sales in the state grew to nearly $3 billion last year.

The report also expects the California market to improve as cannabis businesses better learn to navigate the state’s regulatory maze, and as more counties and cities move to allow retailers to set up shop.

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