Cannabis Illicit Market Shrinking, New DEA, Homeland Security Numbers Suggest

There are no completely accurate methods to measure the size of illicit markets, no matter what is being bought and sold. There are, however, some figures that can be taken as proxies of these markets. In the case of cannabis, it could be argued that seizures and confiscations can be, in a way, interpreted as surrogates of the actual illicit market sales.

Now, while establishing a univocal multiple to convert confiscations into actual sales is really hard, seizure figures can help us better understand the direction of the illegal markets: are they growing or shrinking? At what pace?

To help us figure this out, GreenWave Advisors shared some exclusive data based on reports from the DEA and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security with High Times.

CHART 2017 vs 2016

For reference, GreenWave estimates that last year cannabis sales hit $8.2 billion, with California boasting a 34 percent market share.

As it can be appreciated above, total confiscations (as measured in U.S. dollars) declined by 35 percent from 2016 to 2017, signaling a similar drop in illicit market marijuana sales over last year – and an even larger drop when compared to previous years.


However, it’s important to

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