Over the past two decades, more and more Americans have welcomed the idea of medical and recreational marijuana. While California paved the way for medical marijuana in the late 1990’s, there are now eight states (plus Washington D.C.) that will allow recreational use of marijuana come January 2018 – including California.

Indeed, cannabis is now a booming business and reports estimate that more than $53 billion was spent on marijuana in 2016 (including illegal sales.) Although laws vary state to state, if you live in a state where pot is legal, you can generally purchase and possess a small amount of marijuana.

While this may be good news to you, this can also lead to a costly dilemma: How should you include weed in your budget? In other words, how much is too much to spend on pot? To answer this question and more, we took a look at some considerations when determining your marijuana budget. Read on to learn more.

Factors to consider when creating a marijuana budget

A recent study showed that the median amount spent on legal marijuana is $647 annually. To come up with this figure, the study looked at 40,000 purchases made in Washington State over a 21 month period. Statistically speaking, the older the user, the more spent on pot. Millennials, however, are the most frequent visitors to pot dispensaries and spend about $27 per visit.

But, while it’s getting easier to purchase pot, this doesn’t mean you should increase your overall budget to include marijuana. Unlike automobiles or houses, where a greater income means you can buy more, your marijuana budget should instead take into consideration three aspects of your well-being: mental, physical and financial health. Take a look at how these three factors play into how much you should spend on pot.

  • Mental Health. When it comes to your mental health, cannabis studies are spotty. But we’re not talking about the mental health benefits from using pot. We’re talking about the mental health effects from abusing it. Like any foreign substance put into the body, there can be negative effects. Although marijuana isn’t physically addictive, your brain can still develop a mental dependency. With this in mind, a responsible marijuana budget should be limited so you don’t “accidentally” overuse and become dependent on pot for your mental well-being.
  • Physical Health. Pot advocates, especially those in the medical marijuana field, will tell you that pot offers many health benefits – while helping to combat illnesses, pain, and other medical conditions. At the same time, marijuana is often sold in a form that is intended for smoking. Along these lines, smoke inhaled into the lungs, whether it’s from a campfire, tobacco, or marijuana, can often have detrimental effects on the lungs. According to the American Lung Association, smoking pot can lead to lung damage. Therefore, it’s a good idea to take all the health benefits and dangers into consideration when developing your pot budget.
  • Financial Health. Just like any other line item in your budget, you have to consider how much you can afford. This way you can figure out how much you can spend without negatively impacting your ability to pay your bills and have enough money to meet your monthly nut and needs. To this end, you probably shouldn’t overspend on pot so that you can still focus on your money goals, like getting out of debt or contributing to an emergency fund.

Create a plan and stick to it

Once you’ve taken your overall wellness into consideration, it’s time to create a budget for your marijuana use. Keep in mind that, just like a diet, exercise regime, or retirement plan, creating a budget for marijuana isn’t going to do any good if you don’t stick to it. And just like any other goal, you won’t be able to achieve it if you don’t start somewhere.

When you’re trying to lose weight, for example, you go on a diet and exercise regularly.  When you’re working toward retirement, you invest a certain amount regularly in order to meet your future goal. Likewise, when you are developing your marijuana budget, you have to set aside a certain amount of money so that you know how much you can spend without causing deficiencies in your mental, physical, and financial health.

Just think: a few years ago, marijuana would never have been on the same goal-setting financial radar as saving up for a vacation or starting an emergency fund. But times have changed. If you’re considering adding marijuana into your financial picture, you’re not alone. Just make sure you take a responsible approach as your wellness comes first.

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Sean Bryant

Sean Bryant created OneSmartDollar.com in 2011 to help pass along his knowledge of finance and economics to others. Sean has worked on the trade desk for a commodities brokerage firm, he was a project manager for an investment research company and was a CDO analyst at a big bank. When not working Sean and he wife are avid world travelers. He enjoys spending time with his daughter Colette and dog Charlie.