12 Most Shocking Cannabis Statistics You Won’t Believe

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There is a world out there that thinks it knows all there is to know about cannabis. They consider it bad or good, and nothing else matters because they are so convinced they are right.

But, bad for you and good for you are opinions, not facts. Statistics are numbers in which people see trends and probabilities. And, the firmer the probability, the more likely you have facts that matter.

12 most shocking cannabis statistics you won’t believe

Well, this may overstate what you do or not believe. But, some cannabis statistics make you think.

Most of the numbers summarized here are taken from the Marijuana Factbook 2017 (available to the public) and New Frontier Data (available for a fee), both of which report on statistical data of interest to cannabis investors.

  1. Some 69 percent of Americans surveyed by Pew Research think alcohol is worse for your health than cannabis. Even if marijuana becomes as widely available as alcohol, 63 percent still think alcohol does more harm.  It’s also true the decline in cigarette smoking will cross paths with the increase in cannabis sales
  2. In 2017, 61 percent believe marijuana should be legalized, and that doubles the 31 percent who approved in 2000.  That trend translates into the support for legalization (53%) passing the opposition (44%). That support rose 11 points between 2010 and 2013.
  3. The demographics of cannabis popularity indicate 40 percent favor legalization as do 68 percent of Millennials. Only 29 percent of The Great Generation want legalization, but 50 percent of Baby Boomers do.
  4. Just because the majority favor the legalization of cannabis, 57 percent would still object to a medical or recreational cannabis dispensary opening in their neighborhood, Moreover, 62 percent would object to people smoking cannabis in public.
  5. In 2016, 12 percent of Americans admitted using marijuana at least once while 49 percent say they have tried cannabis, 7.3 percent in the previous month.
  6. During 2017, legal sales of cannabis produced $5.8 to $6.6 billion in revenues. And, based on that data, reports expect $7.9 to $9.7 billion during 2018. If you sort of average that out, you might see a 43 percent year-on-year growth. That exceeds the growth of the finance and insurance, private and professional services, and information industrial sectors.
  7. Even though only six states permit legal sales, the increase in revenues will come from recreational cannabis sales, perhaps, in California alone. The same trajectory puts legal sales at $22 billion by 2022, a 27 percent increase each year.
  8. The Marijuana Factbook forecasts an economic impact of between $28 billion and $34 billion in 2018 and $75 billion by 2022. The math says this forecast assumes a multiplier effect of 3.5. That is, every $1 consumers or patients spend on medical or recreational cannabis will create another economic benefit of $2.50.
  9. This growth should build a million new jobs across the United States in the next 10 years. Currently, the canna-industry employs 125,000 to 160,000 people. If the growth continues, that means more job opportunities than healthcare.
  10. Experts estimate the legal and black-market demand for cannabis add up to $52.5 billion. But, given the actual legalized revenues and their rollout, it means more than $46 billion in sales occur in off-market sales.
  11. Medical cannabis revenues should reach $5.9 to $7.3 billion in 2022. But, recreational marijuana should hit $12.1 to $14.8 billion in 2022. That doubles the sales of medical cannabis.
  12. If legalized in all 50 states, medical and recreational cannabis would create at least a combined $131.8 billion in federal tax revenue between 2017 and 2025 from an estimated 15 percent retail sales tax, payroll tax deductions, and business tax revenue.

What’s the takeaway?

Speaking as one who hates statistics and did what he could to avoid courses in statistics, I am both impressed and skeptical.

  • Statistics are not hard evidence. At best, they suggest probabilities. That’s like constructing a bridge with approximations.
  • Currently, the statistical sample may be too small to make reliable forecasts. After all, these numbers are extrapolations on experience in only a few states. The older the experience and the more population represented, the more narrowly valuable the probabilities.

Now, it’s true that what’s true of California is true of a dense population segment, but it really doesn’t speak for the Dakotas or Carolinas.

  • Surveys that depend on self-disclosure are notoriously unreliable. Participants will shade the truth on their admission of doing things illegal, disreputable, or socially stigmatized. For example, no one puts much trust in the self-disclosure of teens regarding sexual experience.
  • Scales, graphs, and charts are metaphors for the numbers. They purport to display the statistical base, but they are only visual approximations of calculation approximations.
  • Statistics are usually secondary data. That is, most of the statistics available to the public come from reworking or reimaging primary data.
  • Statistics tend to emphasize correlation, not causation. Statistics focuses on comparisons and contrasts. This is horizontal thinking not vertical. That doesn’t make it incorrect, but it narrows its value.
  • Another problem with statistical analysis is the tendency to jump to unjustified conclusions about causal relationships. In fact, statistical analysis does not prove a causal connection between two factors.

This is not to discount the 12 most shocking cannabis statistics listed here. It asks you to keep them in perspective. They are prepared for and by marketing interests. So, you might notice the wide range in the forecasts. You might also notice that if all the cannabis industry reaches all these forecasts, it will also mean a fundamental redirection of the U.S. economy, surpassing the exports, supporting the nation’s infrastructure, and developing the industries necessary to a vital economy. That may be the most shocking forecast.