Higher Healing: Medical Marijuana Revenue Statistics

Written By
G. Dautovic
July 04,2023

You’ve probably encountered cannabis at least once in your life. You’ve certainly heard about the dangers of marijuana as a gateway drug to harder drugs.

But you’ve probably also heard about the benefits of marijuana, and how it can actually be used for medicinal purposes.

While some still argue on whether or not different weed strains should be available on pharmacy shelves, 33 American states, together with Washington DC and four (out of five) US territories have already done it, and they're making a fine profit out of it.

So instead of focusing on the pros and cons of the plant itself, we turn our heads to medical marijuana statistics and offer you some insight into how profitable the industry is and will become.

Medical Marijuana Industry Statistics

93% of American voters believe medical marijuana should be legalized in all states.

Discussing the pros and cons of weed is one of America’s favorite pastimes. According to a Quinnipiac University Poll, around 93% of American voters approve the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes. The figure is lower when it comes to the legalization of recreational marijuana, at 63%.

Both poll groups are still hesitant about supporting legislative changes before Congress, though. Then again, 60% of Americans like the idea of imposing taxes and regulating the weed market.

However, in order to impose such measures, it needs to be DEA and FDA approved. This still seems unlikely, as Congress holds onto the Controlled Substances Act from 1970, which classifies cannabis with more than 0.3% THC as a Schedule I substance, with high potential for abuse.

Source: Quinnipiac University

In 2017, the USA claimed 90% of the global marijuana market, with $8.5 billion in revenue.

In 2017, the global (legal) marijuana market was worth around $8.5 billion. The market proceeds to expand and is estimated to reach the figure of $25 billion by 2025. Marijuana revenue statistics measure a projected compound annual growth rate of 14.7%, making it one of the fastest-expanding industries in the United States.

As for 2017, at the time, the United States had around 1.9 million registered medical marijuana patients. However, they weren’t the ones who made the greatest contribution. The market kneeled before 21 million monthly recreational users who contributed to the largest chunk of the total revenue.

In 2013, when the industry applied for medicinal use only, total revenue was under $3 billion, which paints the picture of how large in scale the industry has become in the past five years.

Source: Forbes

The medical marijuana industry was worth $5.1 billion in 2017.

With a projected compound annual growth rate of 11.8, medical marijuana is to become a $13.5 billion business by 2025. However, in order for that to happen, more investments need to be put into scientific research.

Medical marijuanas in their basic form remain prohibited by both the FDA and the DEA. Despite individual states officially approving its use, cannabis remains in legal limbo, which makes it harder to harness its medical potential.

On the other hand, synthesized substances like Nabilone and pharmaceutical Dronabinol are approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These medications are primarily used to stimulate appetite with patients going through chemotherapy or are in the later stages of AIDS.

Source: Medical Marijuana Inc

The cannabidiol oil industry was worth $1.9 billion in 2017.

Medical marijuana is still a taboo subject - one that you might want to avoid during a Thanksgiving dinner with your extended family. This is mainly due to cannabis containing a specific level of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the effects of which are psychoactive.

Side effects of marijuana may include dizziness, memory loss, psychosis, and hallucinations. In some cases, marijuana side-effects can accelerate schizophrenia with people prone to mental illness, especially if they consume large amounts at a young age.

With all the pros and cons of legalizing weed out there, the cannabidiol oil industry has managed to create an expanding submarket based on THC’s harmless little brother, cannabinoid. Extracted from both Indica and Sativa strains of weed, it excludes the nasty side-effects, making it highly useful in the pharmaceutical world.

With that in mind, cannabis market research shows that the market is projected to grow from $1.9 billion in 2017 to $20 billion in 2024. That is a staggering 49% CARG, which makes the cannabidiol oil industry one of the best markets to invest in.

Source: Medical Marijuana Inc

On average, a medical marijuana user spends $136 on one purchase every 10 days.

Judging by medical marijuana facts and statistics in the United States, medical users outspend their recreational counterparts 3 to 1. This is mainly due to the fact that medical marijuana has a larger market in the United States, simply because more states have legalized it.

However, police reports from 2019 suggest that illegal marijuana sales continue to thrive, stealing a huge chunk of the legal market revenue. Another factor is that medicinal marijuana can be more expensive than recreational, depending on the state.

Also, marijuana flower sales have been decreasing since 2016, making way for the significant rise in cannabis-based product sales. Edibles, cannabis vape oil, and cannabidiol have each experienced growth in retail, both medical and recreational.

Source: New Frontier Data

The start-up cost for a regulated cannabis dispensary may vary from $775,000 to $1,000,000, with medical licenses ranging from $2,500 to $6,000.

As medical marijuana revenue statistics skyrocket, licenses, taxes, and other permits for opening a marijuana dispensary rise as well. On average, one must cash-in around $5,000 for the license, plus a non-refundable fee that can range from $1,000 to more than $10,000.

If you add another $2,000 per month for a banking fee, you realize how pricey this particular business can get. These expenses come regardless of whether it’s an adult-use shop or a medicinal marijuana dispensary. In return, a single dispensary can earn from $500,000 to $3 million per year.

Source: Cannabis Business Plans, Cova

Taxes vary from state to state, but medicinal marijuana is still tax-free in some of them.

Following the cannabis industry growth in the United States, six states plus Washington DC have levied some sort of taxes on marijuana. However, some of them exclude medicinal marijuana from their tax policy and are only practicing excise taxes.

Washington DC is currently the most strict regarding tax on medical cannabis, with a 37% marijuana excise tax. The capital of the US earned around $319 million in 2018 through taxes, second only to California at $345 million.

Nevada, New Jersey, Illinois, and Arizona are other examples of states imposing taxes targeting both medical and recreational cannabis.

States like Oregon and New York, among others, don’t have any taxes related to medical marijuana, although they do charge taxes on adult use.

Source: Fox Rothschild

In 2019, 296,000 people were employed in the cannabis industry.

In recent years the booming medical marijuana industry has swept over the nation, taking over 33 states, four permanently inhabited US territories, and the District of Columbia.

However, since marijuana is still illegal on a federal level, the National Labor Statistics Office doesn’t provide information on how big the industry actually is job-wise.

According to medical marijuana surveys conducted by Leafly, medical marijuana held the record of employing 296,000 people in 2019. This figure combines recreational and medical marijuana workers; indirect employees like lawyers, accountants, consultants; and media workers.

To illustrate how large this figure actually is, have in mind that the United States employs around 52,000 coal miners, beer companies are responsible for 69,000 jobs, while the textile industry provides work for around 112,000.

Source: Leafly

Medical marijuana users

Medical marijuana user statistics show that Baby Boomers are the most common users of cannabidiol oil in California.

As the cannabis market growth continues, people of all age groups can be found throughout the cannabis industry statistics. In California, cannabidiol consumers nearly doubled in 2018, growing from 2.6% to 4.8% during a one-year period.

Baby Boomers are discovering cannabidiol at a very fast rate. In 2018, they made up 8.4% of total cannabidiol consumers in California.

This figure particularly applies to female Boomers who form the bulk of cannabidiol users, expanding their interest on a number of cannabis-based wellness products as well as plain old medical weed.

Reportedly, 50+ consumers are mostly keen on treating anxiety and using cannabis for pain relief, as well as insomnia by using cannabis oil. According to the market reports, they seem pleased with the results.

Medical marijuana statistics provided by Eaze, a prominent California-based cannabis retailer, claim that women users make up 21% of their total cannabidiol oil purchases.

Source: Eaze

Baby Boomers are also the biggest spenders.

As far as spending is concerned, Eaze’s marijuana statistics claim that Boomers spend an average of $95.04 per month on weed. Compared to Gen Z consumers, this figure represents a 53% higher rate of spending.

Millennials still make up the majority of Eaze customers, spending an average of $72.94 per month. However, while millennials mostly use weed as a means of recreation, Boomers express the most interest in the healing qualities of the plant.

Source: Eaze

Men smoke more medical weed than women.

A 2018 study conducted by the Department of Health Services of Arizona shows that out of 180,126 registered medical cannabis patients, 107,711 were male, and 72,415 were female. That is to say, the male-female split is 59.8% to 40.2%.

Studies that explore the long-term effects of weed have noted that men are more prone to try weed in general, making it easier for them to turn to medicinal cannabis.

Source: Arizona Department of Health Services

In 2014, 22.7% of US army veterans diagnosed with PTSD were also registered as regular cannabis users.

Although no clinical data has yet confirmed the effects of marijuana on treating PTSD, a large number of military vets turn to weed with the intention of alleviating their combat traumas.

Therefore, the figure of 40,0000 veterans registered as cannabis users fall into medical marijuana abuse statistics, according to the US Department of Veterans Affairs.

According to Eaze, however, 3% of their customers in 2018 were army vets who claim that cannabis has helped them overcome some symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder.

While there are no recent official figures on this subject, judging by the marijuana consumer trends currently sweeping the United States, veterans are sure to follow.

In the meantime, research is being diverted towards finding out more on the medical marijuana effectiveness on PTSD patients, with a number of states accepting cannabis as a legitimate way to treat their veterans.

Source: US Department of Veterans Affairs, Eaze

Seniors are the fastest-growing age group of medicinal marijuana users in the United States.

According to medicinal marijuana statistics published by the NCBI, senior citizens are outpacing their younger counterparts in consuming weed. The survey was conducted in Colorado and published in 2018, with a sample of 274 respondents, with an average age of 72.5. Previous findings show that between 2006 and 2013, the prevalence of marijuana use among those 50 years or older rose by 71.4%.

The survey reported that 45% of respondents confirmed they’ve used marijuana in the past. Out of this percentage, another 54% responded they’ve used it both recreationally and for exploiting the medical purpose of marijuana.

Respondents confirmed they’ve used different types of weed and marijuana-based products like cannabis vape, showing they are well-educated on the subject. Regarding medical marijuana uses, they mostly consumed weed for treating depression, anxiety, arthritis, chronic back pain, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, and epilepsy.

Stats and Facts on States with Medical Marijuana Laws

Source: National Center for Biotechnology Information

California has more than 10,000 cannabis businesses that hold state licenses.

California was the first state to legalize cannabis for medicinal uses in 1996, setting a precedent that ultimately led to the marijuana industry growth we are experiencing today.

As of June 2019, the Golden State holds more than 10,000 licensed businesses involved in either adult-use or medical marijuana retail. They are also paving the way when it comes to cannabis delivery apps and services, with 128 state-licensed delivery services in 2018. This makes California the most medical marijuana-friendly state in the country.

Retail sales of medicinal cannabis and medicinal cannabis products are exempt from taxes in California, as the state relies on taxes only for recreational use. In 2018 medical cannabis revenue was around $600 million, making up less than half of the state’s annual income.

Source: California Cannabis Portal

California is estimated to have the highest number of medicinal marijuana patients in the United States.

In 2018, ProCon.org made an estimate that 915,845 people were regular users of medical cannabis in California. This figure would make California the state with the highest number of medical marijuana patients in the United States. On the other hand, California is known for its lenient laws regarding medical marijuana. Since the state decriminalized recreational weed in 2018, a lot of former patients just switched to being regular adult users.

However, the state of California insists on patients' discretion and does not demand for an MMJ patient to be publicly registered as a user. This is regulated by the 2003 Medical Marijuana Program Act, which provides a voluntary state ID card system to identify medical marijuana users.

Therefore, the official California medical marijuana statistics for the Fiscal Year 2017/2018, reported a misleading figure of 5,848 registered patients, almost the same as Washington DC (5,679).

Source: ProCon.org

Arizona’s medical marijuana sales increased 41% in 2018.

According to official Arizona medical marijuana statistics provided by the Arizona Department of Health Services, more than 60 tons of medical cannabis was sold in 2018.

Given that an ounce of medical marijuana costs an average of $200 in Arizona, the total estimated revenue is approximately $400 million which represents a 41% increase in sales compared to 2017.

The number of medical marijuana patients grew around 20%, with the state of Arizona registering 198,000 medical cannabis cardholders in 2018, compared to 162,708 in the year before.

Source: Arizona Department of Health Services

In 2018, New York had 1,718 licensed medical marijuana practitioners who treated 98,101 registered patients.

Since the introduction of the Compassionate Care Act, the State of New York has accumulated more than 98,101 patients. Patients aged 51-60 years made up the greatest percentage of cardholders at 23.06%, followed by patients aged 61-70, at 19.21%.

Chronic pain is recognized as the most common marijuana-treated condition in New York. The state of New York also recognizes marijuana for anxiety treatment with patients suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In addition, weed is often prescribed as a substitute for opiates when treating addiction.

Source: New York State Department of Health

New Jersey has nearly doubled its number of physicians participating in the Medical Marijuana Program since January 2018.

The increase in the Program’s capacity came in January 2018, after Phill Murphy was elected as the governor of New Jersey. An advocate of recreational-use legalization, Murphy made his first steps in the office by increasing funding and staff of the Medical Marijuana Program.

The results were visible from the start - dispensary revenue jumped from $29 million in 2017 to $53 million in 2018.

By July 2019, at 51,000, the number of medical marijuana patients. The staff now consists of 2,000 caregivers and 1,000 doctors.

Chronic pain due to musculoskeletal disorders is cited as the most common reason why patients are receiving cannabis treatment in New Jersey (28.9%), with intractable skeletal spasticity cited as second (15.3%).

Source: New Jersey Department of Health

Medical marijuana statistics in Colorado suggest the medical weed market is in decline, while the state is experiencing a boom in recreational marijuana revenue.

Along with California, Colorado was one of the first states to legalize medicinal marijuana in 2000. As of 2019, the state’s Medicinal Marijuana Program takes care of 87,000 patients.

Colorado’s total revenue on cannabis from January to July 2019 was 984,007,992. Medical cannabis, in particular, had a revenue of around $332 million in 2018.

Medicinal marijuana revenue saw its first-ever decline in 2016, while adult-use sales continued its steady growth. The flower is still the main product driving the medicinal cannabis revenue, holding 61.2% of total sales.

Tax-wise, the state has earned a total of $193,587,968 from January to August 2019, compared to 266,529,637 from 2018.

Source: State of Colorado, Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy

Oklahoma made a total revenue of more than $23.3 million by September 2019 from medical marijuana.

Oklahoma legalized medical marijuana in 2018 and has since become one of the top earners in the business. Since the decriminalization law is still fresh, most of the total revenue was accumulated from commercial license applications (64%) and the rest comes from patient applications (36%).

The commercial application, which allows a business to become a grower, processor or medical marijuana provider (dispensary), is $2,500. On the other hand, the cost for a patient license is $100, and it can be reduced for Medicare and Medicaid members.

The latest update from the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority shows that 135,219 licenses (both commercial and MMJ patient) have been approved, out of 136,838 applications.

Source: Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority

In Puerto Rico, edibles account for 34% of the medical marijuana market.

Puerto Rico legalized medicinal marijuana in 2015. Since the medical cannabis market of the island-nation has started developing on its own terms, it often dictates various trends on the mainland.

In 2019, cannabis-infused edibles took over one-third of the wholesale medical marijuana sales in Puerto Rico. The cannabis data provided by LeafLink for MJ Business Daily suggests this is twice the average when compared to United States markets.

Puerto Rico has 92,499 registered medical cannabis patients, which is almost 3% of the total population of the island.

Let’s look at Canada and the UK

Source: Marijuana Business Daily, LeafLink

Canada’s medicinal cannabis market was reported at $452 million in 2016.

Canada has been at the forefront of the medical marijuana business since 2000 when it first legalized medical weed. Since then the country has gone through a series of legislations, ultimately leading to the decriminalization of recreational marijuana in 2018.

The market is projected to quadruple by 2025 and reach around $1.8 billion.

According to statistics about medical marijuana provided by Canada’s official government website, there are 342,103 registered medical marijuana patients.

Since Canada doesn’t impose taxes on medical cannabis, if the MMJ patient holds a proper license, the tax revenue relies on the adult-use marijuana industry. Speaking of which, Canada has made a tax revenue of $186 million in the first five months after decriminalization.

Source: MarketsandMarkets, Government of Canada

Medical marijuana spending in the UK is forecast to grow to nearly $542 million by 2022.

European countries are increasing investments in the medical marijuana industry.

Great Britain, for example, accounted for $87 million in 2019 to provide their patients with alternative, weed-based medications. Medical marijuana industry statistics suggest that by 2022, the UK will increase its spending to $542 million.

However, they aren’t the only ones investing. Medical marijuana statistics are forecasting that by 2027, Germany should become the leading medical marijuana powerhouse in Europe, with Italy as the runner-up.

Source: BDS Analytics


How much tax revenue has DC medical marijuana generated?


Washington DC's total marijuana tax revenue was $319 million in 2018. Washington imposes a 37% Marijuana Excise Tax on medical cannabis, which is due regardless of whether sales are exempt from sales tax.

How much revenue is generated by the sale of medical marijuana?


In 2017, medicinal marijuana in the United States garnered $5.1 billion in revenue. In 2018, medical marijuana held a market share of 70.3% of total legal marijuana sales in the United States. By 2025, it is projected that the industry will grow to 13.5 billion.

What is the annual revenue of a medical marijuana dispensary?


A medical marijuana dispensary makes an average from $500,000 to $3 million per year, depending on various factors, like the state and its laws and taxes, operational capacity, quality, etc.

How to make medical marijuana revenue clean?


Tax policies vary from state to state. Currently, 33 states, Washington DC and four US territories have decriminalized cannabis. While some countries impose taxes on both recreational and medicinal marijuana, in others, medicinal marijuana is tax-free, implying you provide correct paperwork.

Another issue is the banks, as most of them take their cues from the federal government, and don’t accept cash earned from marijuana retail, regardless of whether it's medical or adult-use.

What has the tax revenue from medical and recreational marijuana helped fund?


While all states decide individually what to do with tax revenue from cannabis, the money mostly goes to schools, drug prevention programs for juveniles, public health, medical research, the police, and local governments and communities. For example, Colorado invested $900,000 to open a homeless shelter.


About author

I have always thought of myself as a writer, but I began my career as a data operator with a large fintech firm. This position proved invaluable for learning how banks and other financial institutions operate. Daily correspondence with banking experts gave me insight into the systems and policies that power the economy. When I got the chance to translate my experience into words, I gladly joined the smart, enthusiastic Fortunly team.

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