Cannabis Dispensaries Surpass McDonald’s in the US, Report Finds

A new report by Pew Research Center reveals that there are more cannabis dispensaries than McDonald’s restaurants in the US, with California and Oklahoma leading the way.

According to a new report by Pew Research Center, a majority of Americans now live in states where cannabis is legal for recreational use, and most have at least one dispensary in their county. The report, based on data from Weedmaps and McDonald’s, shows that there are nearly 15,000 cannabis dispensaries in the US, compared to about 13,500 McDonald’s restaurants as of 2023.

The report also shows that cannabis legalization and availability vary widely across the country, depending on state laws and regulations. As of February 2024, 18 states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for recreational use, while 36 states and the District of Columbia have legalized it for medical use. However, cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, creating legal and logistical challenges for the industry and consumers.

California and Oklahoma top the list of cannabis dispensaries

The report reveals that California has the most cannabis dispensaries in the nation, with 3,743 as of 2023, accounting for a quarter of the total. California was the first state to legalize cannabis for medical use in 1996, and for recreational use in 2016. The state has a large and diverse cannabis market, with a wide range of products, prices, and quality. Nearly all Californians have access to a dispensary in their county, except for a few rural areas where local bans are in place.

Oklahoma stands out for having the most cannabis dispensaries per capita of any state, with 36 dispensaries for every 100,000 residents. Oklahoma legalized cannabis for medical use in 2018, and has a relatively low barrier to entry for the industry, with no limit on the number of licenses, low fees, and simple requirements. Oklahoma also has a high demand for cannabis, with more than 10% of the population registered as medical cannabis patients.

Cannabis industry and consumer trends in the US

The report also highlights some of the trends and challenges facing the cannabis industry and consumers in the US, such as:

  • The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which boosted cannabis sales and consumption, as well as online ordering and delivery services, but also disrupted supply chains and increased health and safety risks.
  • The competition and coexistence between the legal and illicit cannabis markets, which depend on factors such as price, quality, accessibility, and enforcement.
  • The diversity and innovation of cannabis products, such as edibles, beverages, concentrates, and topicals, which cater to different preferences and needs of consumers, but also pose regulatory and testing challenges.
  • The social and environmental implications of cannabis production and consumption, such as energy use, water consumption, waste management, and social equity.

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