Money Is Growing On Trees In Washington

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Dope Magazine reports:

By: J.F.S. Wilhelm

Nearly two years have passed under the watchful eye of the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) and Washingtonians are enjoying their cannabis more than ever before.

Here are a few figures from our loving overlords at the WSLCB (As of April 4th):

  • Heading into the 2016 fiscal year, Washington has generated over $660.5 million in sales and over $126.6 million in taxes from cannabis.
  • Daily sales have exceeded $2 million since August 2015, which roughly translates to a minimum of $13 million in taxes each month. These taxes have not only gone toward keeping cannabis out of the hands of youth via enforcement and education, but also to advocate a dialogue of transparency as cannabis transitions from the black market to the medical and recreational markets. Many of these taxes will go to statewide healthcare and other budgets, as well as research on the short-term and long-term effects of cannabis on the body and mind.
  • The harvest was at its peak in November 2015, when 46,082 pounds were produced. That’s over three times the amount harvested in March 2016, coming in at just 15,286 pounds. This makes 181,222 pounds of cannabis harvested as of March 29, approximately the same weight as sixty Toyota Priuses. Think about that the next time you call an Uber to the dispensary.
  • 648 Producer/Processor licenses have been issued. 307 retail licenses have also been issued, but only 229 stores are reporting sales. Overall, this is great news for residents on the supply and demand ends of Washington’s cannabis industry. People looking to get involved can find employment in a variety of professions, ranging from the low-tech sale associate to the high-tech canna-chemist. Consumers though, both inside and outside the industry, can rejoice knowing there are more than twice as many companies producing cannabis products than companies to sell them, creating a surplus of cannabis for all.

2016 is on pace to be the most lucrative year in legal cannabis yet, with Washington generating nearly as much revenue from cannabis sales in the first half of this year than in all of 2015. A recent article in Fortune predicts (via The State of Legal Marijuana Markets by ArcView Market Research) that the cannabis industry could grow to be a $21 billion industry by 2020, tripling in size based on current industry analyses.

I recently spoke with Brian Yauger, the CEO of frontrunnerdata.com (formally Tetratrak), a cannabis analytics firm built to provide business intelligence for canna-businesses since legalization in Washington. “One of the most interesting trends in recreational cannabis is that 48 percent of all sales are one gram,” Yauger noted, “But with medical marijuana going away and a customer base that purchases in ounces not grams, recreational stores could see a jump in volume sales.” This notion alone could mean big money on every level of the cannabis industry.

With growing acceptance and a point-blank glimpse at the financial ends created by this fledgling billion-dollar industry, one is compelled to ask what cannabis has truly afforded us as a society. Is it the improving financial health of the state? Are our police now focused on “real crime?” Or, is it the fact that we simply have more choices than before, enabling us to make better decisions about what we truly want because there are new alternatives to what we’ve had? Time will be a better judge, but count on people keeping score. You can access a weekly report from the WSLCB on the trends in the cannabis industry here: http://lcb.wa.gov/marj/dashboard

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