Americans on pace to spend twice as much on weed as on milk

Published on July 19, 2021
According to 2021 first-half sales data, Americans are on pace to spend twice as much on cannabis as they do on milk. (Leafly illustration)

Americans spent more than $12 billion on legal cannabis products in the first six months of 2021, according to data analyzed by Leafly and Whitney Economics.

That’s nearly as much as Americans spent on milk in all of 2020. According to the Dairy Farmers of America, consumers spent roughly $12.6 billion on milk last year.

Cannabis sales topped $18 billion in 2020. The six-month trend in 2021 puts the industry on pace to reach $25 billion to $26 billion in sales by the end of the year. That would represent a year-over-year revenue increase of roughly 35%.

That growth would continue the cannabis industry’s position as the nation’s fastest-growing industry. In 2020, sales revenue increased roughly 60% over 2019, driven by increased buying during the coronavirus pandemic.

Leafly and Whitney Economics project sales of $25 billion in 2021, based on first-half data.

Some mid-year highlights:

  • Mid-year revenues are approaching $12.5 billion (medical and adult-use combined) after first-quarter revenues were $5.8 – $5.9 billion.
  • With second-quarter revenues forecasted to be in the range of $6.2 – $6.5 billion, the U.S. legal cannabis market is gaining momentum for a strong back half of the year.
  • Based on the latest sales data, Whitney Economics increased its 2021 forecast from $22.2 billion to $25.0 billion, and increased its 2025 forecast to $44.9 billion

Massachusetts on pace to top $1 billion in 2021

In Massachusetts, legal cannabis sales are on pace to reach $1.2 billion in 2021, which would be roughly a 70% gain over 2020. That state’s adult-use stores opened in Nov. 2018. Since then, Massachusetts retailers have sold more than $1.8 billion in cannabis products.

Michigan sales pick up

Revenue in Michigan enjoyed a big bump as winter gave way to spring, with monthly sales of roughly $100 million increasing to the $150 million range in March and April. If that trend holds, Michigan’s 2021 sales would touch $1.6 billion, a 65% increase over 2020 sales.

Illinois growing a bit slower

Illinois is also trending toward annual sales of $1.2 billion in 2021, which would be a 20% increase over 2020. The state’s rollout of retail cannabis stores has been delayed by political battles over licensing and equity.

Full information about legal cannabis sales and cannabis jobs is available in the Leafly 2021 Jobs Report, produced in partnership with Whitney Economics.

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Bruce Barcott
Bruce Barcott
Leafly Senior Editor Bruce Barcott oversees news, investigations, and feature projects. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and author of Weed the People: The Future of Legal Marijuana in America.
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