More than 50 countries worldwide have legalized some form of cannabis for medical use, and six — Canada, Uruguay, South Africa, Guam, Georgia, and the Northern Mariana Islands — have legalized cannabis for personal or recreational use, according to Global Cannabis Report from New Frontier Data, that analyses current market trends in the world of cannabis.
Yet, the legal, regulated markets command just a fraction of the global demand for cannabis.
Based on New Frontier Data’s latest analysis, more than 260 million adults worldwide consume cannabis at least once per year, collectively spending $344 billion USD annually. As much of the world has not yet legalized any form, much of the demand is in illicit or unregulated markets.
A large number of cannabis consumers globally, coupled with the growing evidence of the plant’s therapeutic value and industrial potential, is transforming attitudes toward cannabis and rapidly driving reform. Many of the countries to legalize cannabis in some form have done so in the past 12 months. With highly divergent approaches to regulating cannabis sales and use, these countries the geographical size of the region – Asia is home to nearly 60% the world’s population – and the higher average prices paid in the region relative to other markets.
Average cannabis prices vary widely across regions, influenced by factors including GPD per capita and the severity with which prohibition laws are enforced. In regions with the harshest punishments for cannabis use (such as in Asia), the price for cannabis carries a heavy risk premium, and consequently some of the highest illicit market cannabis prices in the world. In Latin America and Africa, conversely, average prices are half of those in Asia, reflecting the higher usage rates and lower economic development in those regions.
Analyses of legal cannabis markets globally have revealed that slight cultural, social, and regulatory variations can drastically impact the size of the cannabis consumer market. Influential factors in determining the total addressable market include the prevalence of cannabis use, average prices paid, and population size and growth.
Asia (with 39% of global sales) is the world’s largest market, followed by North America (25%) and Europe (20%).
There were 217 countries considered in this first-of-its-kind analysis of total global cannabis demand.