Even amid dolorous headlines regarding the weed industry’s current trajectory, its bottom line is on the up: A new report says that in 2023, cannabis will clock in more sales than craft beer, chicken eggs, topical pain relief — and even chocolate and opioids. That surge is due to emerging markets, which are surging even while many states that are cannabis pioneers are seeing more complex industry trends.
The 2023 MJBiz Factbook, released by Coloradan weed industry publication MJBizDaily, predicts that US cannabis sales will rise by $4 billion this year to exceed $33.5 billion in 2023.
In addition, the report says by 2028, the US weed industry will be clocking in roughly $57 billion in sales.
But the numbers are somewhat misleading because they don’t give a clear picture of what is happening in the country’s established cannabis markets, dependent as they are on sales boosts from recently opened markets such as that of New Jersey, Arizona, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Maine.
The report does note that its predictions for 2022 sales were some $3 billion too enthusiastic.
Financial findings of new national sales records could lead one to think that the legal cannabis industry is thriving, but the truth is way more complex than that. In states like Massachusetts, California, and Oregon, oversupply of flower is causing prices to plummet — news that great for the 420 consumer, but less so for producers, particularly small scale weed companies. And even though sales figures are going up certain new-to-the-game states, in Colorado recreational sales dropped by 16% and medical sales fell by a record 42%.
In March of last year, a whopping 37% of cannabis businesses told the National Cannabis Industry Association that they were unable to turn a profit.
And strangely, this overall national windfall of sales is not translating into an overall national windfall of employment for those working in weed. At the beginning of 2023, some market researchers predicted that the country would create 100,000 new cannabis jobs this year. But that was before numbers were released that indicate that there has actually been a two percent drop in weed industry employment—the first time that has happened since Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012.
That report, which was put together by cannabis job-search site Vangst, found that some states that are new to legalization created many new jobs—like New Jersey, where weed employment more than doubled. But other states that have a longer-running recreational industry clocked in bigtime drop-offs in jobs numbers, like California where employment in the weed economy plummeted by a whopping 13%. (Those figures are also reflected in total revenue numbers for the longtimers versus newcomers in the adult-use game.)
The Vangst study gave a good idea of a shifting market landscape, even showing that Michigan surpassed Colorado this year in terms of number of people employed by the legal cannabis industry.