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Medical Marijuana Sales in California up 132%

A new report shows that California’s medical marijuana market has grown by $463 million over a recent five-year period.

California’s medical marijuana sales have grown 132 percent since 2010, according to a new report by Marijuana Business Daily. Through a partnership with HDL Companies, the cannabis news site secured exclusive data showing that medicinal cannabis sales rose from a reported $351 million in 2010 to nearly $814 million in 2015. Over the five-year period, the market had an annual growth rate of 18.3 percent.

Growth has been particularly strong over the past year, with 2015 experiencing a 40 percent bump in marijuana sales from the year prior. Between 2013 and 2015, California’s medical marijuana market grew by $370 million, an 83 percent jump.

The most recent sales data from 2016 suggest that the California’s medical marijuana market is continuing to grow. A recent report found that sales at medical marijuana dispensaries between April 2015 and March 2016 reached $845 million.

Marijuana Business Daily suggests several potential reasons for the market’s recent growth, one of which includes the arrival of medical marijuana delivery services. Rather than travel to a dispensary to purchase medicinal cannabis in person, patients can order their medicine online and have it delivered within a couple hours. The improvement in purchasing ease and the increased accessibility to a larger customer base is likely helping to bump up sales.

Another potential cause for the notable increase in sales is the recent shift toward prescribing medical marijuana instead of opioids in the treatment of chronic pain conditions. The abuse and misuse of opioid medications has become a public health crisis, with over 165,000 people dying from prescription opioid overdose since 1999. Researchers and organizations like the National Institute on Drug Abuse have urged physicians to opt for other treatment methods and choose cannabis instead of opioids for their patients.

Recreational and Medical Marijuana

California legalized medical marijuana in 1996, but the market since then has been unregulated. As a result, many dispensaries likely underreport their sales in an effort to avoid being targeted by municipal law enforcement, suggesting that actual sales numbers are higher than the calculations by Marijuana Business Daily.

California is in the midst of setting up its regulatory system since Governor Jerry Brown signed a collection of three bills to create a comprehensive licensing and regulatory framework for the state’s medical marijuana program in 2015. Until the regulated market begins, to avoid raids on by law enforcement, Gov. Brown signed a bill to establish standards for product manufacturers.

California has issued 82,385 medical marijuana cards to date, but under Proposition 215 patients are not required to get an identification card. The law allows patients with a written or oral recommendation from a physician to possess up to 8 ounces of marijuana for the treatment of severe nauseaHIV or AIDSanorexia,  migrainemuscle spasmsseizuresarthritiscachexiacancerchronic painglaucoma, and other chronic or persistent medical conditions.

Recreational marijuana sales in California have yet to begin since voters approved the legalization measure on November 8. Still, despite having only medical marijuana sales up to this point, California possesses the largest state cannabis market in the entire United States. As of March, the state has 528 dispensaries, 10 percent more than all other medical marijuana states combined.

Learn about California’s medical and recreational marijuana laws through our education page.