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State of the Industry: Marijuana Laws Regulations Vary by State, Public Opinion

Though it remains illegal at the federal level, a sweeping majority of U.S. states and territories have legalized marijuana for adult recreational-use and/or medicinal usage with qualifying criteria. Last year, the recreational cannabis market hit nearly $15 billion; 1 by some accounts, that industry is on target to surpass $40 billion in revenue by 2026.2 As for the global medical cannabis market, it reached a value of $26.1 billion in 2021.3


Marijuana by the Numbers

At last count, 19 states - Montana, Virginia, Connecticut and New mexico, to nae a few, permit the lawful sale of recreational marijuana via licensed despensaries, to adults ages 21 and older.4 Another 9 states, including Utah, Oklahoma, Florida and Pennsylvania, consent to legalized medical marijuana for residents aged 18 and up, who have a qualifying condition, doctor's authorizations and parent/guardian to dispense medication.5 At least a handful of populous states, including New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island, have successfully legalized both medical and recreational cannabis. In New Jersey's first week of recreational sales, revenue hit $24M, with only a dozen stores licensed to sell.6 It appears just four states, according to one source, maintain marijuana as a fully illegal substance. 


Economic and Job Stats

Where marijuana is deemed legal, it provides jobs and local economic stability. In 2019, the industry created 211,000 full-time jobs in the U.S., as stated in a 2019 article published by Leafly, a website focused on cannabis use and education. In this same article, Leafly dubbed the cannabis industry as the “greatest job-creation machine in America.” Fast-forward to last fall when the digital publication shared its first-ever Cannabis Harvest Report and ranked cannabis as the fifth most valuable wholesale crop in the Nation – outranking cotton, rice and peanuts – as measured against U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) data. According to the report, legal cannabis now supports more than 13,040 farms across the country.


Popular Opinion

As far as the public opinion on marijuana goes, results from a 2021 Pew Research poll show 91% of Americans believe cannabis should be legalized to some degree. Breaking the numbers down further, 31% support it for medical-use, and 60% for medical and recreational use; only 8% of respondents said marijuana should remain illegal.



The marijuana industry is ever-evolving. And though little is consistent across state lines, one thing is true: marijuana, in any form and for any purpose, is an age-restricted product.

To learn more about The BARS Program’s well established compliance training practices for alcohol and tobacco retailers and restaurants contact us at, or by calling 1-877-540-5500.



1 CNET, 04/21/22; Where Marijuana is Legal in the US

2, 4, 5 Leafly, Recreational marijuana laws in the United States

3 imarc, Medical Cannabis Market: Global Industry Trends, Share, Size, Growth, Opportunity and Forecast 2022-2027

High Times, 05/27/2022; New Jersey Recreational Pot Sales Hit $24 Million in the First Month

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