Americans Bought $400M in Cannabis for July Fourth

Published on July 8, 2019 · Last updated July 28, 2020
July 4th Marijuana Sales — Americans splurged on more legal cannabis than ever during Independence Day celebrations this year. (DragonImages/iStock)
Americans splurged on more legal cannabis than ever during Independence Day celebrations this year. (DragonImages/iStock)

America lit more than just fireworks this Independence Day—the July Fourth week saw record legal cannabis sales in the fast-growing industry.

Legal cannabis sales totaled $400 million for the July Fourth week, up 60% over the weekly national average. That estimate comes from Akerna, formerly MJFreeway, a technology company that runs dispensary cash registers nationwide. Akerna estimates Americans spent more on cannabis than chicken for their barbecues this Fourth of July.

By 2020, the company says, Americans could spend more on Independence Day cannabis than they do on wine, making the national holiday a sales rival to the unofficial annual cannabis holiday of 4/20.Ready to Shop Legal Cannabis?More than one in four Americans now live in a legalization state, and consumers stocked up for their vacation weekends. (I myself scooped up eighths of Super Glue, Orange Creamsicle, Pink Cookies, and Banana Punch from The Green Cross, San Francisco for the long week of rest and relaxation.)

Higher Sales Each Day

July Fourth fell on a Thursday this year, but sales began to climb early in the week. Sunday, June 30, became the highest grossing Sunday of the year, with sales up 50% higher than the daily average. Cannabis retailers then saw sales ramp higher each day as the week went on.

Monday, July 1, became the highest grossing Monday of the year, with 1.45-times daily average sales—a 45% increase. Tuesday, July 2, became the highest grossing Tuesday of the year, with sales up 53% over the daily average.

Sales peaked Wednesday, July 3 as folks stocked up on vape carts, edibles, prerolls, and more—making Wednesday the highest grossing Wednesday of the year, with sales more than double the daily average (112%). Even Thursday, Independence Day—when many dispensaries closed—saw slightly higher than average daily sales.

Eleven states and Washington, DC, have legalized cannabis for adult use. Though some states have yet to launch regulated marketplaces, overall legal cannabis sales are surging year over year, with holidays amplifying the gains. Americans spent $10.4 billion on cannabis in 2018, more than on Taco Bell.

Americans Spent as Much on Cannabis as Taco Bell Last Year

“The strength of the week is a healthy indication of continual consumer adoption as legalization expands and acceptance grows across all demographic segments,” said Akerna Chief Executive Officer Jessica Billingsley.

Akerna’s MJ Platform and Leaf Data Systems manage data for stores and regulators nationwide. The 9-year-old company has tracked billions of dollars in sales from its headquarters in Denver.

It wasn’t just a matter of more people showing up to stores. Customers also splurged a bit this July Fourth, sending average order totals up $3, to $100.87 per order. Customers also bought more items per order—averaging 3.04 items, a 15% increase over the average 2.64 items per order.

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Another sales technology company, Flowhub, also reported strong consumer demand over the summer weekend. Year-over-year sales for the holiday week grew 18%, Flowhub told Leafly Monday. Compared to 2017, July Fourth, 2019 saw a 31% increase in sales, according to Anne Fleshman, vice president of marketing at Flowhub.

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Up Next, 710 Celebrations

America’s legal cannabis stores now must pivot to the next big sales day—this week’s July 10 or “710” holiday. The phrase “710” is “oil” spelled upside-down, and the day has become a 4/20 of sorts for aficionados of cannabis extracts. Akerna predicts sales will be up 30% above average for Wednesday.

Cannabis technology company Headset reported that July 10, 2018 sales spiked 10% above average, while extract sales surged 49% and vape pen sales zoomed up 36% above average.

Let freedom make those cash registers ring!

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David Downs
David Downs
Leafly Senior Editor David Downs is the former Cannabis Editor of the San Francisco Chronicle. He's appeared on The Today Show, and written for Scientific American, The New York Times, WIRED, Rolling Stone, The Onion A/V Club, High Times, and many more outlets. He is a 2023 judge for The Emerald Cup, and has covered weed since 2009.
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