The Mermaid is no longer the most popular green thing in America. A new study by MJBiz finds that sales of legal marijuana have eclipsed those of Starbucks in the United States in 2021. And by a fairly significant margin.

As part of their 2022 Factbook, MJBiz—a website devoted to cannabis business and research—examines the growth of the legal marijuana industry in the United States, comparing it other big time revenue sectors, like cigarettes, over the counter medications, opioids, salty snacks, and of course coffee, in this case Starbucks. (Is it a good look for the marijuana industry, historically known as a gateway drug, to addictive substances like cigarettes, painkillers, opioids, and even coffee? I wouldn’t think so but what do I know.) They found that, while cigarettes and OTC medications, at $52.8B and $36.5B, respectively, outpaced legal cannabis sales in 2021, marijuana for the first time brought in more revenue than all North American Starbucks sales by a margin of $4B to $6.5B; legal cannabis sales in 2021 are estimated to be between $24.5B and $27B, whereas North American Starbucks in the same timeframe earned $20.5B.

The American vice pyramid.

And according to MJBiz, the legal cannabis industry isn’t just being the Bux off the coffee giant in terms of total dollars, but in overall growth as well. Per the article, Starbucks annual revenue in North America grew 25% in the 2021 fiscal year—which really makes you wonder about how much they are paying for their coffee and what exactly they think will be the harm of the unionizing efforts taking place across the nation—but legal marijuana saw sales grow by 30%.

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This, the MJBiz notes, occurred when only 39 states and the District of Columbia have at least some form of legalized marijuana, be it medicinal or fully recreational.

Not included in those 39 is my home state of Texas. The Home of Personal Freedom, the Land of Mah’ Rights, Business-First Texas has not legalized marijuana in any real capacity. Even Oklahoma—OKLAHOMA of all places!—has at least legalized medicinal use. It’s almost as if Come and Take It only to a very narrow band of conservative, Judeo-Christian things.


It stands to reason that marijuana sales will continue to outperform that of Starbucks in the years to come. Shifting nationwide opinions about cannabis use is trending more favorably for the plant, and there is a huge untapped market. In those 11 unlegalized states lives over 20% of the country’s total population. Legalization efforts there would be a boon, one that Starbucks simply can’t keep up with.

Zac Cadwalader is the managing editor at Sprudge Media Network and a staff writer based in Dallas. Read more Zac Cadwalader on Sprudge.

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