There are a lot of "ifs" around what the legalization of pot could mean for the convenience-store industry. Certainly, as legalization of recreational use marches across the U.S. map every time the polls open, the answer to the question of whether or not marijuana will be legal for everyone seems to be an obvious "yes." But will pot ever be available for sale in a regulated environment in convenience stores? The answer to that question isn't nearly as certain.
C-stores definitely seem uniquely poised to take on the challenge of marijuana sales. After all, the industry has been legally selling alcohol (in most states) and cigarettes for a long time, with staff that are specially trained in carding and regulated-product sales practices. And in Canada, c-store retailers just took a step closer to legally selling recreational marijuana in c-stores when Cannabis Wheaton, a marijuana product supplier, recently inked a deal to sell Canadian cannabis at 350 convenience stores in western Canada and Quebec. The deal would make Cannabis Wheaton the sole supplier for 10 years. The company didn't disclose its c-store partner.
A 2017 Gallup Poll shows that the majority of Americans support the legalization of marijuana for recreational use, with 64% indicating they'd approve of such measures. Eight states have already legalized recreational marijuana: Alaska, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. Legalized recreational-use pot is helping to account for 100,000 to 150,000 new jobs created by cannabis-related companies, according to Marijuana Business Daily, with the potential to increase those positions to 300,000 by 2020.
But it doesn't necessarily mean good news for U.S.-based c-stores, unless of course they can get in on a bit of the marijuana action themselves.
"Wall Street analysts are beginning to consider the growing reach of cannabis as they provide guidance on publically traded consumer packaged goods to manufacturers and retailers," said Rick Maturo, co-counder of Cannabiz Consumer Group. "Retailers should view this threat as being as real as that posed by Amazon. If they don't, they may find themselves with limited product leverage as tens of millions of consumers migrate some of their purchasing away from CPG on their shelves in favor of cannabis."
Sales of legal weed in the North American market grew by 34% to $6.9 billion last year, and it's expected to grow by 26% annually through 2021, according to The Motley Fool. And all of this is to say nothing of other marijuana products that include edibles and beverages. Will convenience stores ever benefit from the marijuana windfall? Or will sales of tobacco, alcohol or even coffee falter because of the dispensary around the corner? Click through to see if your state could be the next to legalize recreational marijuana, if it hasn't already. 24/7 Wall Street reviewed marijuana usage rates, exisiting marijuana laws and legislative processes in each state to make an educated guess about which are most likely to legalize pot next.