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California: Lessons From the World’s Largest Cannabis Market

Part of the Cannabis Intelligence Briefing series.

After a rocky transition to regulated adult-use sales in 2018, California’s legal cannabis market is currently on track to grow 23% in 2019 to $3.1 billion. Consumer spending is forecast to reach $7.2 billion in 2024, a 19% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the next five years. You’ll need the best data and analysis available if you want to thrive in this complex and ultra-competitive landscape.  This report provides the insights you’ll need to participate in the world’s largest cannabis market.

  • California Governor Jerry Brown forecasted that legal cannabis would bring the state $643 million from cannabis taxes in 2018. Actual cannabis-related tax revenue fell short of projections, totaling just over $345 million, with $182 million coming from cannabis-specific excise taxes and $36 million from cultivation taxes.
  • Given the tax and regulatory load being carried by the legal market, California’s illicit market is predicted to make up 53% of all sales in 2024; compared with the majority of other states with more supportive regulatory regimes whose illicit markets are expected to shrink to 30% or less of total sales in that time frame.
  • The average consumer in California is 44-years-old. Also, younger generations consume at higher rates, with 39% of Gen Z and millennials and 41% of Gen X reporting consumption in the past six months, compared to just 20% of Baby Boomers and older generations.
  • California currently has a relatively low number of retailers for its population, with only one licensed retailer for every 35,147 adults over the age of 21. Contrastingly, Oregon has one dispensary for every 5,567 adults over 21, while Colorado has 4,240 adults age 21 and over for each retailer.

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