Medical Marijuana Market - Growth, Trends, COVID-19 Impact, and Forecasts (2022 - 2027)
The medical marijuana market was valued at USD 15,746.14 million in 2020, and it is expected to reach USD 42,001.19 million by 2026, registering a CAGR of 17.79% during the forecast period.
The COVID-19 pandemic has an immense impact on the market as there is a dilemma of the effect of cannabis on the patients of coronavirus. Augusta University in Georgia tested the ability of cannabis to reduce this inflammation-causing by the virus, but the theory is not proved in human sources. There are other researchers claiming that cannabis has a negative effect on COVID-19 patients. Moreover, the dispensaries and clinics offering the treatments remained close during the lockdown, pulling down the market growth.
The major factors driving the medical marijuana market include the increasing number of countries legalizing the use of medical marijuana, the trend of producing edible products with cannabis, and favorable reimbursement environment and government support in selected countries, which are expected to experience a boost over the forecast period. Each year, the legal use of cannabis for medical and recreational purposes is steadily growing, but it varies across countries, based on the possession, distribution, cultivation, and medical indications for its consumption. Currently, there is also an increasing use of marijuana as a functional food, with purported health benefits far outnumbering what consumers can get from kale, turmeric, or kombucha.
With the new generation growing up in the United States, where cannabis is legal, new products are found rapidly entering the market, which is expected to grow rapidly over the forecast period. Doctors prescribe medical marijuana in order to treat muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis, nausea, poor appetite, and weight loss, which in turn are caused by chronic illnesses, such as HIV, nerve pain, and Crohn's disease. Thus, with the increasing applications in medical indications, there is a huge opportunity for marijuana in the medicinal and scientific community as well, thus boosting the overall market.
Furthermore, the initiatives by the governments globally are boosting the growth of cannabis for medical use. For instance, in India, after the Madhya Pradesh government, the Uttarakhand government legalized the cultivation of the plant for medical purposes in 2019. In the same year, the United States government grows the largest crop for research purposes.
Guam became the first US jurisdiction to legalize marijuana in 2019. The US territory's new law permits adults aged between 21 years and older to possess and grow cannabis, and it may create a system of licensed and regulated businesses to produce and sell marijuana. Similarly, in 2017, Peru legalized the possession, sale, and transport of cannabis for medical purposes.
In April 2020, New Zealand's Medicinal Cannabis Agency, part of the government's Ministry of Health, launched its new Medical Cannabis Scheme to improve access to quality medical cannabis products for patients. The Ministry of Health developed the scheme to allow the domestic, commercial cultivation, manufacture, and distribution of medical cannabis and set the quality and licensing requirements.
However, the social stigma of the usage of cannabis and the lack of awareness of the medical uses of cannabis are the factors restraining the market growth.
Like the market, the segment of chronic pain was impacted due to the pandemic. The treatment centers and hospitals providing marijuana treatment were shut down or redirected to treat covid patients, and hence the segment did not show the expected growth in 2020.
There are many studies that have shown that medical cannabis is found to be an effective method for the treatment of chronic pain and that it is far safer than many other options. It is an affordable, natural alternative that lacks side effects and is traditionally used to treat chronic pain. There are also several ongoing kinds of research on medical marijuana for the treatment of chronic pain, which is expected to directly impact the growth of the market.
According to the National Health Service United Kingdom 2019, there were about 28 million people in the United Kingdom with chronic pain, with around 10-14% of them experiencing moderate-to-severe disabling pain. With the increasing prevalence of chronic pain, many researchers are looking at the possibilities for treating the pain.
Marijuana is also being used for the treatment of arthritis, as it has the potential to reduce inflammation, as well as reduce pain. There is also increasing research on medical marijuana for the treatment of cancer and commercially available cannabinoids, which are approved drugs for chemotherapy, and which are likely to augment the growth of the market. Marijuana, being an effective treatment for neuropathic pain, is expected to rise further over the forecast timeframe. However, there are challenges associated with its abuse which vary in adoption rate between countries.
North America holds the major share in the medical marijuana market and is expected to show a similar trend over the forecast period, without significant fluctuations. The surging pace of cannabis legalization in the United States is one of the key factors contributing to its increased demand. There are also many marijuana programs in the United States that have accelerated, and most of the states have started to approach medical marijuana from the perspective of good public health. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures 2021, a total of 36 states, including the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands, have approved comprehensive, publicly available medical marijuana/cannabis programs.
In November 2019, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), was awarded a grant of USD 3.5 million (EUR 3.16 million) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study the effectiveness of marijuana in pain management. Such an initiative by the government is also giving the region a cutting edge in the growth of the market.
The market studied is moderately competitive and is dominated by a few major players. Currently, the use of cannabis is legal only in a few countries. Because of this, several companies were not able to launch their products. Some major companies in the market include United Cannabis Corporation, Aurora Cannabis, Aphria Inc., and Tilray.