Legal Marijuana Will Outgrow Smartphones, And Here's Why

With more states legalizing marijuana, the drug could outgrow and become bigger than the smartphone industry. Here's why.

The recent political efforts to decriminalize and legalize marijuana has caused the movement to become not only a significant political force, but a great economic opportunity as well.  Based on the current medical marijuana market alone and the legalization of the drug in two states, the market is currently at about $1.43 billion.  However, with the situation stabilizing in Washington and Colorado, and the federal government clarifying that they will not interfere with their state laws over marijuana use, the market is expected to grow by about 64% in 2014 to $2.34 billion.  This will make the market grow faster than smartphones, which only expanded by 46% in 2013.  There are reasons for that, of course.

First, in fairness, the reasons the smartphone market is will be outpaced by the marijuana market have just as much to do with smartphones as it does with marijuana.  The smartphone market has particularly reached a saturation point.  While this writer does not have a smartphone, more than three-fifths of adults in this nation do.  What remains are stragglers, the elderly, some rural populations, some low-income populations, and children, all of which will be harder to sell to.  The international market has not reached its saturation point, but it is getting there: An increasing number of cheap smartphones are being made in nations such as China and others.  The market has yet to peak, but has reached the high-water mark, so to speak.  Further, while marijuana may outpace smartphones, the global smartphone market is still remarkably large in comparison, with the marijuana market currently less than 1% of the total smartphone market.

As per the marijuana market itself, the fact that the federal government decided not to intervene in Washington and Colorado over the matter of legal marijuana is playing a decisive role in the growth of the legal marijuana market, which will likely become the primary source of income in the market sometime in the next few years.  One of the states likely to make marijuana legal in the state is California, of which high levels of the state government are pushing to pass a legalization referendum in 2016, though some are pushing to put it on the 2014 ballot.  The market will likely grow to more than $10 billion in just five years.

Still, the main problem that is holding back the national (and global) marijuana market is that of legality.  The United States continues to consider all the key components of marijuana to be a Class I Controlled Substance at the federal level, meaning that it is still considered illegal at the federal level.  Outside the United States, only the Netherlands and North Korea (yes, you heard that right) allow pot smoking.  However, the cultural shift may make things change over the coming years, and the overall change in American attitudes may have ripple effects on the rest of the world, possibly causing the weed market to be as big as the smartphone market in the coming decades.

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