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Legal cannabis sales expected to exceed soft drink sales in 12 years

Legal cannabis sales are reportedly expected to outpace soft drink sales. The trend does not necessarily mean pot is more popular than soda. But soda sales have continued to decline. (DmitryTishchenko/Getty Images)

Legal cannabis sales in 12 years are expected to outpace soft drink sales, Bloomberg News reported.

Sales from the legal U.S. cannabis industry are expected to hit $75 billion by 2030, according to the research firm Cowen & Co. The figure is almost the size of the North American soda market in 2017, Bloomberg reported.

In 2017, Forbes estimated the global cannabis market to be worth about $7.7 billion.

Why is this happening?

Cannabis use is rapidly growing as more states legalize pot, the report noted. At present, nine states and Washington, D.C. have legalized recreational pot.

That means more than 1 in 5 adult Americans can "smoke, vape, eat or drink it however they please," Bloomberg reported.

Earlier projections indicated legal pot sales would reach $50 billion by 2026, according to Bloomberg.

“New forecasts suggest that the market is already that size,” analyst Vivien Azer told Bloomberg News on Wednesday.

Are soda sales falling?

The trend does not necessarily mean pot is more popular than soda. Soda sales have continued to decline as consumers opt for healthier drinks with less or no sugar.

According to Beverage-Digest, a trade publication, per capita carbonated soft drink consumption declined to a 31-year low in the U.S. in 2016, the report indicated. In North America, the market fell to $76.4 billion in 2017, down from $78.3 billion in 2016, Euromontior International data shows.

But alcohol sales could suffer the most as legal pot grows in popularity. That trend is already surfacing.

"Binge drinking" in particular has declined in states where marijuana is legal, Bloomberg reported.

Binge drinking rates declined in states with legal weed when compared to states that allow only medical marijuana and states that prohibit any kind of pot, Azer stated.

“We have consistently argued that cannabis and alcohol are substitute social lubricants,” Azer told Bloomberg News.

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