6 cannabis infographics that show the California cannabis market opportunity

February 16, 2023

The cannabis industry in America is changing by the day. Recently, several states have moved to legal status, and states with legal medical cannabis are also expanding to legalize recreational cannabis use. The following cannabis infographics show just how much opportunity exists within the legal American cannabis industry.

We’ve recently released a similar set of infographics on one of the newest legal recreational cannabis markets, New Jersey.

cannabis dispensary security plan article illustration

For those in the cannabis industry, it’s important to watch legalization closely as there are clear first-mover advantages. In a crowded dispensary marketplace, the early brands that get their license and open up shop first are often rewarded with a loyal customer base.

To see how Solink can secure your new cannabis operation, sign up for a demo today.


A new projection of the American cannabis market by Cowen and Company shows a huge growth in sales during the 2020s. The cannabis market in America was valued at $65 billion in 2021. That number is projected to rise 50% by 2030 to reach $100 billion.

Within this topline number, California is the biggest state-level cannabis market. But we’ll get to that below.

Cannabis legalization by state

It can be hard to keep up with the changes in cannabis legalization in America. One way to know exactly what is happening in the American cannabis industry is to attend cannabis conventions.

This map shows where recreational cannabis is legal (teal), where medical cannabis is legal (turquoise), and where cannabis is illegal (tangerine).

Two things should stand out to you:

  • There are a lot more legal states than illegal states now. As of 2022, only 12 states continue to fully criminalize cannabis use. (Note that some of these 12 states, for example Georgia, do have some level of legalization for CBD but not THC, or only low-THC products.)
  • South Dakota and Mississippi are striped. This indicates that they have plans in place to go from legal medical cannabis only to legal recreational cannabis use.

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Is there a legal cannabis industry in California?

legalization-status in the united states

Yes, the cannabis industry in California is fully legalized. However, before you open a cannabis dispensary or cultivation center, be sure to understand what goes into a cannabis security plan.

California has some of the most stringent security requirements for cannabis business of any state. There are also slightly different requirements depending on local jurisdictions. As an example, here are the requirements for operating a cannabis business in Santa Cruz.

These tough regulations can be a blessing in disguise. The last thing you want is to have a security system that meets regulatory requirements but is not useful. Century Cannabis found just that. That’s why they chose to improve their security with Solink’s integrated cannabis security solution. The following are just two of the things you should get out of an effective cannabis security system:

  • Real-time security monitoring: A proactive security system can alert you to what is happening in real time. This includes both security alerts and information from your POS on how your sales staff is doing.
  • Remote video surveillance: It’s not always possible to be at all of your locations at once. A single system that connects all of your cannabis dispensaries and cultivation centers makes it easy to scale your business.

To see how Solink makes cannabis security systems functional, sign up for a demo today.


Cannabis consumption changes during the pandemic

cannabis consumption since the pandemic

While the cannabis market in America is expanding into new states, at the ground level it is also growing. Cannabis use has been growing steadily over the last couple decades along with more public acceptance and legalization. However, over the pandemic, this trend has accelerated.

According to Weedmaps’ 2021 cannabis use survey, cannabis use has increased by 51% during the pandemic. Importantly, cannabis use is on the rise in every demographic. Generation z (58%), millennials (57%), and generation x (52%) saw the biggest increases in recreational cannabis use. However, younger (32%) and older (20%) boomers (including the silent generation) also increased their cannabis use.

Cannabis dispensaries by state

dispensaries by state and per capita

While the California cannabis industry is the largest in the world, you wouldn’t know it by the number of dispensaries per million residents. This chart shows the number of total dispensaries in selected states along with the number of dispensaries per million residents.

As of 2020, California had 1440 cannabis dispensaries, second only to Oklahoma. However, with its population of almost 40 million, that only works out to 36.7 dispensaries per million people.

Cannabis sales in California

cannabis sales in California

As mentioned above, the California cannabis market is the largest one in the world. It currently represents about 8% of the total US cannabis market, and California cannabis sales are expected to rise over the next five years by more than 20%.

The California cannabis industry has a few major issues. Most of them can be summarized as the high cost of doing business, due mostly to strict regulations and high cannabis taxes that make it hard for the legal cannabis industry in California to compete with the illegal trade. However, things are changing for the better.

While many were hoping for bigger cuts, the government of California has recently reduced cannabis taxes. It is too early to tell whether this is enough to end the illicit cannabis market in California, but there is hope that this signals a change in the way the legal cannabis industry in California will be operated going forward.

California cities with no dispensaries: where the California cannabis industry has not yet reached

biggest cities in california with no dispensaries

More and more states are legalizing recreational cannabis use. The same can be said for cities in California. California was the first state to legalize medical cannabis use in 1996. Because of that, California has influenced how most states (and countries too) deal with the rollout of legalization.

One such example is giving local governments the option to opt-in or -out of the cannabis industry. Over 25 years later, there are still some very large cities in California that do not have any cannabis dispensaries.

With Fresno opening two cannabis dispensaries in July 2022, here are the nine biggest cities in the state without dispensaries yet. With the change in Fresno, there are over 500,000 more California residents who can now shop for cannabis locally, representing a very large opportunity for cannabis dispensaries.

Keeping an eye on local government debates is a great way to be the first to apply for a license when the next big California city opens their doors to the legal cannabis industry.

Solink can help your cannabis business

We cannot overstate how important video surveillance is for the cannabis industry. Solink provides a video analytics platform that connects your surveillance cameras to your POS and other systems. That way your security cameras transform into a business intelligence system.

For example, Canada Buds uses Solink to improve their store layout and attribute revenue to advertising campaigns. This is just one way your security system can be used for operations management.

To see who Solink can improve the operations of your cannabis business, sign up for a demo today.

Want to see how Solink can help you grow your business?
Take a virtual tour.