20 States Expected to Fully Legalize Marijuana by 2024


By Sean Williams, Motley Fool

The legal marijuana industry is budding before our eyes. What had once been considered a taboo industry that was swept under the rug by lawmakers has now become a front-and-center issue, as well as a big-time moneymaker for investors and companies involves in the pot industry.

According to the team of Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics, worldwide licensed-store cannabis sales totaled $3.4 billion in 2014. Just four years later, they more than tripled to $10.9 billion. By the time 2024 rolls around, they may nearly quadruple once more, with the 2019 State of the Legal Cannabis Markets report calling for $40.6 billion in global licensed-store sales. And, mind you, this figure doesn't include cannabinoid-based pharmaceutical sales or cannabinoid-based products sold by general retail stores.

A black silhouette outline of the United States, partially filled in by baggies of cannabis, rolled joints, and a scale.


Two-fifths of the U.S. should be recreationally legal by 2024

At the heart of this growth is the United States. The U.S. is consistently viewed as being responsible for between a third and half of all global marijuana sales in five to 10 years' time. The big question simply is: Will the federal government change its tune on marijuana?

In the State of the Legal Cannabis Markets report, Arcview and BDS suggest that while medical legalization is expected in all U.S. states by 2024, only 20 states will have given the green light to recreational cannabis sales. Following you'll find the 20 states (listed in alphabetical order) that this duo expects will have legalized adult-use cannabis by 2024.

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Washington

You'll note that 11 of these states have already legalized recreational cannabis use and/or sales. Illinois is set to commence legal weed sales in just over three months, with Michigan and Vermont not too far behind. Meanwhile, nine states are projected to "go green" on a recreational basis sometime between now and 2024, based on this report: Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, and Rhode Island.

A green highway sign that reads, Welcome to California, with a white cannabis leaf in the top right-hand corner.


Certain states take precedence

It's one thing to be a recreationally legal market in the United States; but it's an entirely different story when it's a highly lucrative market.

At the top of the pecking order is California, with $7.23 billion in projected annual cannabis spending in 2024 (this figure combines medical and recreational spending). With the Golden State expected to comprise almost a quarter of the United States' 2024 licensed-store sales – as well as singlehandedly outsell Canada that year -- it's no wonder that pot stocks are aggressively fighting for market share. Most notably, Cresco Labs (OTC:CRLBF) is in the process of acquiring Origin House in an all-stock deal. If complete, Cresco Labs will have purchased one of the few holders of cannabis distribution licenses in California, which'll give Cresco access to sell its branded products in more than 500 licensed dispensaries in the state.

But there's plenty of opportunity beyond California. In fact, 12 other states, aside from California, are expected to generate $1 billion in annual cannabis revenue by 2024.

Arguably the most intriguing of those states is Nevada, with $1.41 billion in forecasted sales in 2024. Despite being one of the least populous states, Nevada should generate the highest per-capita cannabis spending, thanks in part to the massive tourism draw of Las Vegas. This tourism is a big reason why Planet 13 Holdings (OTC:PLNHF) chose to set up the largest dispensary in the world just west of the Las Vegas Strip, and why Green Thumb Industries (OTC:GTBIF) acquired Integral Associates.

Planet 13 is currently generating about 10% of all marijuana sales throughout the state, with the company looking to replicate its success with a second store in Santa Ana, Calif. Planet 13's SuperStore in Las Vegas has seen its daily visitor count more than double between November and August.

Meanwhile, Green Thumb's purchase of Integral Associates gives it ownership of the Essence brand of dispensaries in the Silver State. Green Thumb is now the only dispensary operator allowed on the iconic Las Vegas Strip.

A tipped over prescription bottle containing dried cannabis buds that's lying atop a doctor's prescription pad.


The biggest surprise

On the other side of the coin, that leaves 30 states that should have some form of active medical marijuana program by 2024, but no adult-use sales. Maybe the biggest surprise of the State of the Legal Cannabis Markets report is that Arcview and BDS don't see Florida as one of the next states to legalize recreational marijuana.

The Sunshine State is certainly a unique case, with the state having to amend its constitution to legalize marijuana. This means it takes more than a simple majority to wave the green flag on marijuana in Florida.

Then again, it's hard to deny that momentum for legalization is growing across the country, and within the Sunshine State. A survey conducted by Fabrizio, Lee & Associates last month found that 67% of Floridians would support a recreational legalization amendment, with 45% of those polled strongly favoring legalization. Comparatively, 29% of those polled opposed the idea of adult-use marijuana.

Yet, even without recreational weed, Florida looks to be well on its way to becoming one of the largest marijuana markets in the United States. Arcview and BDS have Florida pegged for $1.9 billion in medical marijuana sales in 2024, which would be good enough for third-best among all U.S. states.

If Florida remains devoted solely to medical marijuana, it would also be considered a boost to Trulieve Cannabis (OTC:TCNNF), a multistate dispensary operator that's devoted a lot of its attention to its home market. Trulieve has already opened 30 dispensaries in Florida, which is a big reason it's a market share leader. By focusing on its brands and keeping its expenses close to the vest, Trulieve is one of a very select few pot stocks that's already profitable on a recurring basis.

Suffice it to say that the U.S. cannabis landscape should be worth closely eyeing for the foreseeable future.

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