cannabis flower and a preroll joint

What Are The Best And Worst U.S. Cities For Cannabis Businesses And Consumers?

Colorado and Washington State made history in 2012 when their voters became the first in the United States to ever pass a statewide adult-use legalization measure. Since that time, 22 other states and the District of Columbia have also passed adult-use cannabis legalization measures, many of them permitting legal recreational cannabis commerce.

Cannabis remains illegal at the federal level in the United States, and no two states in the U.S. have identical legalization models. Yet, despite the patchwork of cannabis policies and regulations in the U.S., the nation’s cannabis industry is thriving.

According to the Pew Research Center:

  • 79% of Americans live in a county with at least one cannabis dispensary.
  • There are nearly 15,000 cannabis dispensaries in the United States.
  • California alone has 3,659 cannabis dispensaries
  • Oklahoma has the most cannabis dispensaries per capita in the U.S. (36 dispensaries for every 100,000 Oklahoma residents)

Whitney Economics recently published a market analysis report in which the leading cannabis economics firm projected that legal cannabis sales in the United States will reach $31.4 billion in 2024.

“The 2024 forecast for legal adult-use and medical sales will top $31.4 billion, an increase in overall sales of $2.6 billion from 2023. This represents a YoY growth rate of 9.14%.” Whitney Economics stated in a press release.

According to Whitney Economics and leading cannabis jobs platform Vangst, the legal cannabis industry “added 22,952 new jobs in 2023, a 5.4% year-over-year increase that brings the total number of full-time equivalent jobs supported by the industry to 440,445.”

A recent analysis conducted by Leafly and Real Estate Witch examined various criteria to determine what are the best and worst cities for cannabis in the U.S. In last year’s analysis, Portland, Oregon took the top spot. Oregon is home to the cheapest legal cannabis options in the country, and Portland is Oregon’s largest city.

Below are the results of this year’s analysis by Leafly and Real Estate Witch (you can read more about the analysis and its criteria here):

The Best Cannabis Cities In The U.S.

  1. Denver, CO
  2. Portland, OR
  3. Las Vegas, NV
  4. Buffalo, NY
  5. Baltimore, MD
  6. Phoenix, AZ
  7. Seattle, WA
  8. Sacramento, CA
  9. Kansas City, MO
  10. Providence, RI

The Worst Cannabis Cities In The U.S.

  1. Louisville, KY
  2. Dallas, TX
  3. Atlanta, GA
  4. Houston, TX
  5. Birmingham, AL
  6. Nashville, TN
  7. Charlotte, NC
  8. Milwaukee, WI
  9. Memphis, TN
  10. Indianapolis, IN

“Denver has the third-highest number of dispensaries per capita (10.4 per 100,000 residents) with an impressive average rating of 4.4 stars out of 5 on Leafly. Cannabis is also affordable in Denver, with an ounce costing just $242, making it the fourth-most affordable city for weed based on price-to-income ratio.” the survey’s authors stated in a press release.

“It’s no surprise to see Denver at the top of the best weed cities in America,” Leafly Senior Editor David Downs said. “They were the first to legalize and have the most mature and advanced cannabis economy of any jurisdiction on the planet. Every city has a robust population of cannabis users, but not every city is reaping the benefits of licensed, taxed, and regulated legal cannabis.”