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Marijuana Could Be Legal in All 50 U.S. States by 2021, Says Report

The legalization of medical and recreational marijuana could expand across the entire United States by 2021, suggests a new research report.

Cannabis market analysts are predicting that every state will legalize medical or recreational marijuana by 2021. A new research report from GreenWave Advisors suggests that the number of states with marijuana laws on the books is about to climb significantly in the coming four years.

As of now, more than half of U.S. states have passed medical marijuana laws and eight have legalized cannabis for recreational purposes. Last November’s election, in which voters in eight states approved marijuana measures, helped reshape America’s marijuana map. GreenWave’s founder and analyst Matt Karnes has said he believes that the nation is on the cusp of a significant increase in states with marijuana laws.

State lawmakers and cannabis advocates are already working to introduce marijuana proposals, the report says, with the goal of presenting voters with ballot-initiatives in 2018 and 2020. Depending on what happens in those elections, legalization could expand to all 50 states, plus Washington D.C. Whether that will happen or not partly depends on how Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions manage states that pass marijuana laws. Trump has said he supports laws being deferred to the states, but Sessions has been a vocal opponent to adult use legislation. A recent Quinnipiac poll found that a majority of U.S. voters support marijuana legalization and believe the federal government should not crack down on states that have implemented marijuana laws.

GreenWave’s report estimates the current U.S. black markets for medical and recreational marijuana to be worth $36 billion. Passage of cannabis laws nationally would equate to as much as $30 billion in marijuana sales by 2021, generating $4 billion or more in marijuana tax revenue for states. If the Trump administration actively challenges the recreational marijuana industry, the report estimates, the market would still hit $18 billion in that time frame.

The report values the 2016 U.S. retail marijuana market at $6.5 billion, up 35 percent from 2015’s $4.8 billion market. Recreational marijuana sales accounted for $1.8 billion. As more states legalize cannabis, those figures will climb.

“In 2017, we expect growth of 18 percent to $7.7 billion as new medical use markets come online,” Karnes said, according to Forbes. He also said he expects California’s sales to make up 40 percent of the nation’s market.

A similar report from ArcView Market Research and New Frontier Data predicts the nationwide cannabis industry to have a compound annual growth rate of 25 percent and grow to over $21 billion by 2021.

Another key projection in the GreenWave report is that there will be what Karnes describes as a “marijuana market metamorphosis,” where states realize it doesn’t make sense to keep their medical and recreational marijuana markets separate and will subsequently merge them together.

“We see this effort presently in Washington, Oregon and Alaska and expect that Colorado will soon follow,” reads the report.

You can read more about current cannabis laws in the U.S. on our education page. Keep up with developments in the legal cannabis industry by regularly visiting our news feed.