Everyone loves ice cream — but weed is actually more popular, according to a Forbes report. Yes, the demand for cannabis trumps the demand for ice cream.
“Ice cream is a feel-good food. It provides comfort and reassurance during difficult times, just like mac-and-cheese, mashed potatoes, and mom’s apple pie. But not everyone can eat ice cream,” says Serge Chistov, financial partner to Honest Marijuana Company. “Cannabis provides the same comfort, reassurance, and sense of well-being without the calories or lactose intolerance. That’s why the demand for cannabis exceeds, and will continue to exceed, the demand for ice cream.”
The cannabis versus ice cream debate only really applies in states where weed is legal, Chistov notes. “I don’t think there’s an accurate way to gauge the demand for cannabis in states where marijuana possession is still punishable by a fine and prison time,” he says. “As more and more states legalize medical and recreational marijuana, we’ll be able to get a more complete picture of the statistics that apply to cannabis demand.”
The statistic indicates that once cannabis is legal in all 50 states, the “sky’s the limit,” Chistov suggests. Even now with cannabis legal in only a handful of states, the demand is approaching $5 billion a year. “If cannabis were legal from coast to coast, from New York to California, demand could exceed $50 billion,” he says. “To put that in perspective, it means that the cannabis industry can and will compete with and surpass such staple industries like beer ($33 billion in the U.S. in 2015) and music ($47.5 billion globally). That’s huge!”
But for now, the biggest hurdle to growth for the cannabis industry is federal prohibition. Even in states where cannabis is legal, marijuana businesses can’t operate without fearing the possibility, however small, that the federal government may swoop in and shut them down. “That’s not a good climate for growth,” says Chistov. “That sense of uncertainty is what is holding many cannapreneurs back from really getting things going.”
He says he hopes numbers like the ice cream statistic will cause lawmakers in Washington D.C. to take notice of just how popular cannabis is. Just recently, a new Gallup survey found that support for legalization is the highest it’s been in nearly five decades, while the majority of Republicans also support legalization cannabis. The survey found that 64 percent of Americans believe marijuana should be legal.
American citizens’ views on cannabis are following a similar trajectory to those on same-sex marriage. In the late 1990s, about 25 percent of the population supported legalizing both same-sex marriage and cannabis — and today it’s 64 percent for each issue.
“I hope these numbers cause our lawmakers on Capitol Hill to sit up and take notice. The American public—the constituents who elected you to office—are sending you a message with their hard-earned dollars: marijuana legalization is good for John and Jane Q. Public, it’s good for the economy, and it’s good for the country,” says Chistov. “Will our representatives listen and make real change, or continue kicking the can down the road, so to speak? Only time will tell.”