Starbucks Coffee can be found on literally every corner in the USA.

The brand name of the noble coffee roasting company literally invites a corruption. Starbucks became Starbuds, an apt name which is often used by dispensaries, head- and grow shops. Coffee and cannabis somehow go well together, as they are both psychotropic plants of extraordinary popularity. Therefore, the direct comparison of these industries is somehow obvious.    

The website reports, with reference to the 2022 edition of the MJBiz Factbook, that the success of the hip coffee giant is now clearly eclipsed by the cannabis sales figures of the US legal states.

According to this, sales of the green gold, with a good one-third lead over the iconic coffee retailer, are significantly higher than its sales in the entire North American region. This is despite the fact that Starbucks can sell its high-priced products freely and without restriction in all 50 states, while cannabis is only legalised in 39 states and the District of Columbia and can only be sold freely under comparatively strict conditions.

Cannabis is also clearly ahead in terms of the pace of growth from 2021 to 2022:
While Starbucks was able to increase its revenue by 25% in the 2021 financial year, sales in the cannabis industry rose by a whopping 30% in the same period, making the coffee house operator look pretty old next to it.

But the cannabis market also clearly wins out in less facetious comparisons. People consume cannabis for a wide variety of reasons, and each of these reasons affects its own market. The Consumer HealthcareProducts Association states that sales of over-the-counter sleep aids in the USA could only record a growth rate of just 1% in 2021. This is not surprising, given that the sleep-inducing effect of cannabis is one of the most frequently cited reasons for use.

The increasingly widespread recognition of the pain-relieving effects of cannabis also meant that sales of over-the-counter painkillers, with just 5% growth in 2021, lagged well behind the good herb. Certainly, this immense jump of 30% is not solely due to the medical field of application. So-called recreational use also contributes a not entirely insignificant share. Especially during the pandemic, many people fell prey to old, supposedly dying vices and took consumption to extremes. This is also suggested by the turnover of the US tobacco industry, which, according to the statistics platform Statista, was able to record a strong increase in the number of cigarettes sold in 2021 for the first time in twenty years.

Irrespective of this, current estimates suggest that the legal cannabis economy in the USA as a whole is even slightly larger than the global market for opiates. In any case, the data on legal sales of opiates shows a marked slowdown in growth during the Covid-19 pandemic. This is certainly due to more difficult access to hospitals during the Corona peak as writes in the article. At the same time, however, these circumstances have certainly given an additional boost to the growth of the legal cannabis economy.   

In Germany, Starbucks sales are still ahead of the legal market for (medical) cannabis. But if the traffic light coalition were to finally make a start with legalised heads, paracetamol and roasted coffee beans could well be condemned to an existence in the shadow of mighty hemp plants.