When reports came back showing legal cannabis sales outpaced Starbucks sales in North America, it raised more than a few eyebrows. As we previously reported, in 2021, legal cannabis sales (medical and recreational combined) were between $24.5 billion and $27 billion, while Starbucks sold a reported $20.5 billion.
At first this might come as a surprise simply because Starbucks is such a famous and successful institution, while marijuana and its dispensaries are still relatively, well, green. These numbers are even more shocking once you remember the fact that marijuana is still illegal on a federal level and there is a complete prohibition on its sale and consumption in more than a dozen states.
How, then, did cannabis outsell the world’s biggest coffee retailer, and what does this mean for the future of cannabis sales?
RELATED: Americans Bought More Weed Than Starbucks Coffee In 2021
Americans love a good cup of joe, but cannabis is what they really gravitate towards when times get a bit tough. And 2021 was a trying year both economically and mentally for most of us.
Marijuana, however, proved it is a strong product in both boom times and challenging ones. “Invest in products that people will always want, in good times or bad. And when it comes to providing a product that people crave the world over, marijuana passes the test,” wrote Investing Daily. Marijuana’s ability to thrive in all economic times make it a very marketable product.
While lockdowns and stimulus payments may have helped weed sales a bit in 2021, this growth does not appear to be a one-time thing. In fact, marijuana sales are projected to reach $33 billion in 2022, according to Fortune, which would be 32% growth from 2021. This shows marijuana on a steady growing path that may help it continue to outpace the coffee retailer and possibly other iconic companies.
Not only are existing markets showing strong sales, but several states legalized recreational weed this year and are already reporting huge numbers. “New Jersey’s launch of adult-use sales, expected in the second quarter, will likely cause the most substantial jump in any market in the U.S. in 2022,” Jessica Lukas of cannabis data company BDSA told Forbes. BDSA is forecasting sales to increase 220% in 2022 versus 2021.
RELATED: International Cannabis Sales Expected To Reach $35 Billion
The last two years have been tricky and uncertain times, but marijuana is growing at a steady rate. Even as state and federal lawmakers battle it out on whether or not marijuana should be legalized, the cannabis industry is poised to march ahead with record gains year after year.
This growth is likely only the beginning for an industry that has nowhere to go but up, which can only lead one to conclude that Americans as a whole will continue to spend even more on pot than pumpkin spice lattes.