Californians might sell about $2 billion per year in legal cannabis under full legalization. That back-of-the-envelope estimate comes from the latest data out of Washington, where fifteen months of legal marijuana has resulted in $357 million in sales of pot products, reports
indicate. California is 5.5 times more populous than Washington. Californians are almost certain to vote on at least one legalization initiative in November 2016.
Washington officials reported
today that $357 million was sold from the start of legal sales through August 31.
The sales figures count all types of transactions, from wholesaling to retailing, but retail sales comprised the bulk of the revenue at $250 million.
Sales are most brisk around Seattle ($82 million in Kings county), while several conservative eastern counties such as Walla Walla and Columbia reported $0 in legal cannabis revenue — a boon to the ongoing black market.
“The state’s two biggest stores, based on sales, are in Vancouver, where New Vansterdam and Main Street Marijuana reported sales of more than $13.5 million each. Their initial sales may have been boosted by visitors from Oregon, a situation that could change because that state recently legalized recreational marijuana.”
Cannabis sales have also generated an estimated $90 million in taxes — revenue that would otherwise be entirely flowing to criminals and gangs. (Colorado has generated more than $100 million
in sales taxes as well.)
Washington legalized cannabis in 2012 and began recreational sales in the middle of 2014, with just a few stores open, short supplies, and high prices.
Since then, more than 100 stores have opened and Washington growers produced a glut of marijuana so big, it equaled a ten year’s supply of the drug. Prices for wholesale marijuana crashed to as low as $1 per gram, growers report.
Yesterday, Washington officials also announced
the state’s first deal with a Native American tribe that wants to get into cannabis. The Suquamish tribe agreed to charge the state’s excise tax to non-tribal customers on tribal lands. The tribe’s first shop opens in November.