The marijuana industry is growing like gangbusters, and both investors and cannabis enthusiasts couldn't be happier. According to Bank of America analyst Christopher Carey, legal pot could one day become an industry capable of $166 billion in annual sales and could disrupt a number of other industries as it expands.
But when talking about global sales, we're really discussing the important role legal cannabis could play in the United States -- a market that's second to no other. Carey's projection pegs the U.S. as generating more than a third of his firm's peak sales estimate, which is why the country is often viewed as the crown jewel of the marijuana movement.
The big question is: Which states will play a big role in generating legal U.S. cannabis sales?
The states that will sell the most legal marijuana by 2024
According to Arcview and BDS Analytics, legal cannabis spending in the United States is set to soar from $9.84 billion in 2018 to $30.03 billion by 2024. This suggests that, along with Canada, North America will account for practically 87% of all legal channel marijuana dollars by 2024.
In a detailed state-by-state breakdown, the report finds 13 states that offer billion-dollar sales potential by as soon as 2024, up from the three states that racked up more than $1 billion in legal spending in 2018 (California, Colorado, and Washington). Here are the states Arcview and BDS Analytics foresee contributing the most to legal cannabis sales in the U.S. by 2024:
- California: $7.23 billion in annual sales in 2024
- Colorado: $2.05 billion
- Florida: $1.9 billion
- New York: $1.66 billion
- Michigan: $1.48 billion
- Arizona: $1.47 billion
- Nevada: $1.41 billion
- Washington: $1.27 billion
- Massachusetts: $1.21 billion
- Illinois: $1.14 billion
- New Jersey: $1.04 billion
- Oregon: $1.02 billion
- Maryland: $1.02 billion
Combined, these 13 states are expected to generate $23.9 billion, or nearly 80% of the $30 billion in full-year legal marijuana sales by 2024.
Digging into the details
Recreationally legal established states, such as Colorado, Washington, and Oregon, should see growth in the coming years, according to the report, though their rate of growth will slow substantially from years past. Instead, it's states like California, which has struggled with supply issues and regulatory red tape, and Arizona, which isn't even a recreationally legal state at the moment, that could see legal cannabis spending roughly triple between 2018 and 2024.
Also noteworthy is that the adult population of a state isn't necessarily indicative of its spending potential. Colorado is forecast to have 6.5 million adults living in the state by 2024, yet is projected to outpace both Florida and New York, with respective adult populations of 22.5 million and 20.1 million, in legal pot sales.
On the basis of spending per capita in 2024, Nevada is the highest, with $1.41 billion in legal sales spread across just 3.4 million people (almost $416 per person). A large influx of tourism keeps Nevada's economy chugging along, and this looks to be the case with its burgeoning pot industry. Colorado slots in as the fourth-highest state on per-capita spending, also benefiting from being a popular tourist destination.
Now that you have a better idea of which states will be contributing the most to the United States' fast-growing marijuana industry, let's take a closer look at some of the companies primed to benefit from this expansion.
These U.S. pot stocks are sitting pretty
The most obvious beneficiaries would be any cannabis companies with a major focus on the California market. After all, California could account for nearly a quarter of all legal U.S. marijuana spending by 2024. Although MedMen Enterprises has laid the groundwork to see substantial top-line growth in the Golden State, I believe it's the combination of Cresco Labs (CRLBF 5.45%) and Origin House (ORHOF) that might be best-positiohned to benefit.
At the beginning of April, Cresco Labs announced what was, at the time, an $823 million all-stock offer to acquire Origin House. With shareholders overwhelmingly voting in favor of the combination earlier this month, it's simply a matter of getting the thumbs-up from the U.S. Justice Department before the combination can be complete. Origin House possesses one of a very few cannabis distribution licenses in California. Thus, Cresco Labs' acquisition of Origin House will allow the vertically integrated dispensary operator the ability to place its in-house-grown pot products into more than 500 licensed Californian dispensaries.
This data also looks very encouraging for a focused dispensary operator like Trulieve Cannabis (TCNNF 0.04%). With legal cannabis spending in Florida projected to nearly triple to $1.9 billion by 2024, up from $626 million in 2018, Trulieve, which has 28 of its 30 dispensaries located in the Sunshine State, looks to be a clear winner.
Instead of spreading itself thin and moving into as many legalized states as possible, which has been the modus operandi of many of its peers, Trulieve has kept its operations mostly confined to Florida, and in the process has gobbled up a good chunk of the state's market share while keeping its operating costs reasonably low. Although recreational legalization, which could happen as early as 2020, would require Trulieve to further defend its turf from increased competition, the highly profitable dispensary operator has shown little, if any, weakness thus far.
Don't sleep on the small players, either. Small-cap Planet 13 Holdings (PLNH.F 5.79%) currently operates the largest marijuana dispensary in the U.S., and will soon hold the top two spots, following the announcement of its plans to open a 40,000-square-foot dispensary in Santa Ana, California, just 10 minutes from Disneyland.
Planet 13's flagship 112,000-square-foot SuperStore in Las Vegas, Nevada, and its California store focus on the experience for the consumer, and just so happen to be in some of the busiest cannabis markets in the entire United States. With Planet 13 already seeing its visitor count nearly double at its SuperStore between November 2018 and May 2019, it looks to have a hit on its hands (pun intended). That makes it a potentially under-the-radar winner as legal spending expands, assuming it can translate the success of its SuperStore to other locations.
If you're looking to invest in the cannabis industry, U.S. pot stocks simply must be on your radar.