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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

December 3, 2012 at 1:12 PM

Legal marijuana: a $46 billion industry?

The voter-approved marijuana measures in Washington and Colorado are pulling marijuana out of the black market. So how big is that market?

I mentioned it was potentially a billion-dollar industry in Washington alone in a Seattle Times story this Sunday about marijuana-industry investors. That was based on a state Office of Financial Management estimate before the November election, which used federal use surveys, plus the per-gram price at local medical marijuana dispensaries, and came up with a potential $1 billion market.

That’s also what Jon Gettman, a Virginia-based marijuana researcher, came up with in 2006. If so, that puts marijuana just behind apples – and just ahead of milk and wheat – as the No. 2 agricultural commodity in Washington.

The Medical Marijuana Business Daily, an industry new service, used the OFM analysis and projected it out nationwide. The result: a market potentially worth more than $46 billion. An eye-popping number.

But these projections, of course, depend on the federal government taking a laissez-faire approach to state legalization measures. The OFM analysis – here in dense detail, here in a summary – has a big fat caveat that legalization could be worth zero dollars, or $1 billion. No word out of Washington D.C. about the potential response to the two states’ new laws.

Comments | More in homepage, Marijuana, Politics Northwest | Topics: industry, investors, marijuana

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