US medical marijuana market estimated at $1.7 billion

The market for medicinal cannabis in the US is huge and still growing, reaching $1.7 billion in sales this year alone, reports find. This figure is likely to increase in the coming years, as an increasing number of states are allowing the sales of cannabis for those with a medicinal marijuana card.

Currently, the growth and distribution of medicinal marijuana is legal in seven states - California, Colorado, Michigan, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and New Mexico - and it is slated to become legal in four more (plus the District of Columbia) later this year.

"Hundreds of businesses exist around the country that cultivate and sell marijuana to customers," said report author Ted Rose in a statement. "We predict that the current markets will double in the next five years," he said. Rose estimates that the size of the medical market will reach $8.9 billion by 2016.

The report found that one in four Americans live in medical marijuana states and that nearly 25 million could currently qualify as medical marijuana patients. Only about 730,000 are currently doing so.

In a sign of a maturing industry, Rose said medical marijuana business operators were more worried about regulations and obtaining financing then they were about competition or getting busted. He said that 90% of operators saw medical marijuana as a growth industry.

The study was conducted over the course of eight months and consisted of surveys and interviews with about 300 businesses in the medical marijuana industry.

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