Marijuana is legal for recreational consumption in just a handful of states, but Americans’ appetite is growing. Medical marijuana is more widespread, and it appears that full legalization is imminent in many other states. As of 2016, combined sales for both medical and recreational cannabis totaled between $4 billion and $4.5 billion. And even though sales are only legal in limited areas, revenue is already overtaking those in other, more established industries.
A report from Marijuana Business Daily says revenue is set to grow exponentially. And though actual revenue, at this point, still lags way behind sales of cigarettes and beer, the demand for marijuana — the amount Americans actually want — is estimated to be higher than a number of other products and services.
Per the report, the estimated total demand for recreational marijuana in the U.S. is between $45 billion and $50 billion. Americans aren’t necessarily getting that much pot, at least not through legal means, but that’s an eye-opening number that should have executives in other industries peeking over their shoulders.
It’s not hard to imagine the pot industry could eat into those revenues as legalization spreads. Right now, however, that demand (and the current sales marks) is already beating out many other products and services. Here are 12 you might find surprising, as even pizza is struggling to keep up.
1. Girl Scout cookies
Who doesn’t love Thin Mints and Samoas? Girl Scout cookies are one of those pesky snacks you actually feel bad not purchasing. You do, after all, want to support young girls as they learn leadership skills. According to the Marijuana Business Daily report, Americans eat up $776 million worth of Girl Scout cookies every year. That’s a fraction of legal and medical marijuana sales.
Next: This popular drink is only about half as popular as legal and medical marijuana.
Many Americans steer clear of tequila, but it still sells in enormous volumes. The report shows Americans buy $2.3 billion in tequila annually, which is roughly half of the current expenditures on legal and medical pot. This, of course, is only a fraction of a larger industry: alcohol. Compare tequila sales to beer, for example, which is more than $105 billion annually.
Next: Music has nothing on marijuana.
3. Music streaming services
We all love music, and these days, streaming services are the way to go. There are a variety of services out there, such as Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music Unlimited. Combined, however, these services only amount to $2.5 billion in annual sales. That’s no small number, of course. But it still lags behind the level of marijuana sales — and well behind the estimated demand for legal pot.
Next: Marijuana has more demand than Viagra?
4. Erectile dysfunction medication
Erectile dysfunction affects a lot of people — an estimated 52% of men will experience it at some point in their lives. And a lot of them are under age 40. This makes for a solid level of demand for treatments, typically dispensed in the form of Viagra or Cialis. Annual sales for those two drugs combined is $2.7 billion, per the report, which still isn’t enough to eclipse current marijuana sales.
Next: Sure, everyone loves pizza, but …
5. Frozen pizza
We’ve all bought a frozen pizza. Whether it was a DiGiorno, Freschetta, Tombstone, or some frozen concoction from California Pizza Kitchen, frozen pizzas are a staple for millions of people. All told, Americans spend $4.4 billion on frozen pies every year. This is the first item on Marijuana Business Daily’s list that overtakes current marijuana sales. But it’s still way, way behind estimated demand.
Next: Marijuana and snacks go together like Cheech and Chong.
6. Doritos, Cheetos, and Funyuns
Marijuana and snacks are two peas in a pod. If you were to picture the stereotypical (though probably not accurate) stoner in your mind, they might have their hand shoved into a bag of Doritos or Cheetos. Well, sales of those two products, plus Funyuns, add up to $4.9 billion. That’s roughly 10% of estimated demand for legal pot.
Next: A sweet tooth or green thumbs?
7. Ice cream
It’s hard to believe people want marijuana more than ice cream, but the report seems to indicate that is indeed the case. Retail sales for ice cream, per Marijuana Business Daily, adds up to $5.1 billion per year. There are some caveats, of course, as there are other unaccounted ice cream sales. And you can bet armies of children, very few of whom are interested in marijuana, create a large pool of demand for ice cream that might fly under the radar.
Next: The big screen might have to compete for big green.
8. Movie tickets
Movies are expensive, and with so many sequels, reboots, and total stinkers invading local theaters, it’s hard to blame someone for wanting to do something else with their time and money. Even so, annual movie ticket sales still count for $11.1 billion, per the report. If the estimates for legal pot demand prove to be true, the film industry might find another entertainment option with which to compete.
Next: How does the demand of love stack up?
9. Engagement and wedding rings
Wedding and engagement rings are expensive — sometimes on a level that borders ridiculous. Getting married is a big life event, so most people are OK with splurging to make it special.
Although this isn’t included on Marijuana Business Daily’s report, it’s worthwhile to include wedding rings to get an idea of how high demand for marijuana actually is. Demand for wedding rings is around $11 billion, according to 2011 numbers from Knot Market Intelligence.
Next: Child care is expensive.
10. Child care
Child care is incredibly expensive, and Americans spend a lot of money to ensure their children are taken care of while they work. And that demand is roughly equal to the demand for legal marijuana. The demand for pot is between $45 billion and $50 billion. And child care demand, according to IBISWorld’s market research, is $48 billion. So, right now, they’re more or less on equal footing.
Next: How does gambling stack up?
Would you believe marijuana demand is higher than the amount of money gambled every year? It appears that’s the case. According to 2010 data from the American Gambling Association, Americans gamble away $34.6 billion per year. Roughly one-third of that happens during the NCAA basketball tournament, or March Madness. Still, demand for legal pot is higher.
Next: Marijuana sales will soon overtake this popular sport.
12. The NFL
The NFL is huge. From September through February, it’s all over the TV, radio, and internet. But the marijuana industry will catch up to the NFL’s girth — and soon. In terms of dollar amounts, demand for weed is already eclipsing Americans’ appetite for pro football. In just a few years, actual sales — and not just estimated demand — will overtake the NFL’s $13.3 billion in revenues.