At $1.6 billion in 2020, Florida would be about half the size of projected market leader California with its estimated $3.3 billion in medical sales, according to the report. (Thinkstock)

This state could account for 14 percent of the U.S. medical marijuana market by 2020

Florida’s size and large percentage of elderly residents could vault the state to the second-largest U.S. medical cannabis market by 2020, a new report shows.

By 2020, Florida could be tallying $1.6 billion in medical marijuana sales — and have a 7.5 percent share of the overall U.S. legal cannabis market and a 14 percent share of the U.S. medical pot market, according to data released Tuesday from New Frontier Data and The Arcview Group, firms that specialize in conducting market research of the burgeoning cannabis industry.

Florida’s Amendment 2, a measure to legalize medical marijuana for certain ailments such as cancer and Crohn’s disease, overwhelmingly passed on Nov. 8, with nearly 6.5 million votes, or 71.2 percent, in favor. Florida previously allowed non-smoked, low-THC cannabis — containing 0.8 percent or less of THC and at least 10 percent of cannabidiol (CBD) — for people with cancer, a physical medical condition that chronically causes spasms or seizures, or those who are terminally ill.

After Election Night, medical marijuana laws have been adopted in 28 states and the District of Columbia, and recreational marijuana is legal in eight states and D.C. By 2020, the legal cannabis market in the U.S. is estimated to total $21.2 billion, New Frontier and Arcview project.

If Florida lawmakers and health officials adopt regulations that allow for efficient entry of physicians and patients, flexibility in licenses and permits to serve a growing patient population, and a variety of product forms, then the state could see medical marijuana sales of $10.7 million in 2017, $277.7 million in 2018, $1.1 billion in 2019 and $1.6 billion in 2020, according to the New Frontier and Arcview report.

“We would caution that (the elderly) is a population that may not necessarily have had a lot of exposure to cannabis in its modern form, nor would they have exposure to medical cannabis as a therapy,” said John Kagia, executive vice president of industry analytics for New Frontier.

Baby Boomers (those between the ages of 52 and 70 years) and the Silent Generation (71-88) have lower levels of support for marijuana legalization — at 56 percent and 33 percent, respectively — than younger generations, according to Pew Research Center data from October 2016.

However, older Americans have a higher rate of adopting cannabis use than other generational groups, Kagia said. Overall use of marijuana increased “significantly” among Baby Boomers from 2006 to 2013, according to a New York University School of Medicine study published this week.

Although the large proportion of elderly population in Florida is a unique element of the state’s medical marijuana market, the sheer size of the state’s population will be a significant driver of the sector’s growth, Kagia added.

At $1.6 billion in 2020, Florida would be about half the size of projected market leader California with its estimated $3.3 billion in medical sales, according to the report.

Florida’s projection is dependent on several variables, including moratoriums put in place at the local level, the report’s authors noted — adding that other key trends could consist of the development of advanced delivery services that would better serve the state’s large elderly population.

Florida has the largest percent of people 65 years of age and older among U.S. states.