The year 2018 has officially come to a close and the final numbers are in: as predicted, it’s officially been a fantastic year for legal cannabis. According to New Frontier Data, investors made $10 billion dollars of investments into the cannabis industry in North America in the past year alone. Combined with record annual sales of medical and recreational cannabis totaling at least $10.4 billion, the business of selling legal weed is booming, and the money is rolling in.

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In fact, the amount of investment into the cannabis industry this year actually beat out all other competitors:  medical cannabis supplier, Tilray (TLRY), performed better than any other stock in 2018. Tilray began trading on the U.S. stock exchange in July of this year; since then, stock in Tilray has soared by over 340%. Moreover, ArcView Market Research and BDS Analytics are predicting that investment into the fast-growing cannabis industry will continue to soar, reaching as high as $32 billion by 2022.

Everything Hinges on National Legalization

According to a recent report published this year by investment banking firm Cowen & Co., the amount of investing seen in 2018 could increase substantially over the next decade, reaching as high as $75 billion by 2030, if, that is, cannabis becomes legal on the federal level in the United States. Said Vivien Azer, investment analyst for Cowen & Co., “this work builds on our prior assertions that cannabis acts as a substitute social lubricant for consumers.”

Commercial Marijuana Recreational Grow Operation Greenhouse Washington State Legal Cannabis Plants Fans Filters iStock / SEASTOCK

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According to Vice President and senior economist for New Frontier Data, Beau Whitney, “Investors are getting much savvier when it comes to this space because even a couple of years ago, you’d throw money at it and hope that something would stick. But now investors are much more discerning.” New Frontier Data predicts investments of at least $19 million dollars for 2019.

Scott Greiper, President and founder of the investment firm, Viridian, agrees that next year will likely bring even larger investment gains, saying in a recent Fortune interview,

“Up until about 6 months ago, the majority of most of the activity was outside the U.S. market because of the continued issue with federal illegality and lack of commercial banking and lack of interstate commerce. Larger pools of capital, public and private, are starting to get comfortable that the U.S. market will become the largest market in the world.”

Large corporations are jumping on board the cannabis train, perhaps signaling larger changes in the making regarding federal legalization. Tobacco giant and producer of Marlboro cigarettes recently invested $1.8 billion in Cronos Group, a Canadian cannabis producer. According to the statement made by CEO of Altria, Howard Willard, “Investing in Cronos Group as our exclusive partner in the emerging global cannabis category represents an exciting new growth opportunity for Altria.”

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In another recent statement by Mike Gorenstein, CEO of Cronos Group, said, “Altria is the ideal partner for Cronos Group, providing the resources and expertise we  need to meaningfully accelerate our strategic growth.” Rumors regarding possible investments by Coca-Cola and Pepsi have surfaced.