Could Legal Marijuana Upend the $41 Billion Sleep Aid Market?

New research shows that plants could be the solution to popping pills—at least when it comes to sleep. Simona Granati - Corbis/Getty Images


Cannabis doesn’t do anything for me,” you might have heard some recalcitrant, unaware soul proclaim, before, in the same breath, they offered the reveal and the self-own, “except put me to sleep.”

In a restless society whose insomniac citizens spend a reported $41 billion per yearon sleep aids—and where tiredness or other consequences of an inability to rest costs $63 billion in “lost productivity,” a fuzzy metric but one with lots of alluring zeroes—something that does nothing but speed somnolence does something very big indeed.

Oddly enough, given Americans’ demonstrated inability and desperate desire to get some sleep, insomnia is not a specific qualifying condition for medicinal cannabis in any U.S. state with medical marijuana on the books. (Only in states where the law is broad—or “too lax,” as critics bemoan—such as California would sleeplessness qualify someone.)

Which is too bad, because consistent with the above hoary-but-true anecdote, in areas where recreational cannabis is available to adults 21 and over via legitimate commercial retail, sales of sleeping aids—some of which carry negative side effects, others of which just plain don’t work—plummeted, recently published research found.


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Photo: Simona Granati – Corbis/Getty Images

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