Recreational marijuana sales in Washington reached $121 million and brought in $23.5 million in excise taxes in July. Both are a new high for the state, which legalized recreational marijuana in 2012.
Washington State saw a record-breaking $121 million in legal recreational marijuana sales in July, and an 18 percent jump from the previous month, The Bellingham Herald reports. July’s totals exceeded June’s by nearly $15 million.
Cannabis sales in Washington for the year now total $347 million, compared to $322 million for all of 2015. The state is on track to nearly double its 2015 revenue.
Data provided by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) shows a steady climb in cannabis sales each month throughout 2016. July’s totals, however, reflect the first month since the state fully folded its medical marijuana market into its recreational program. As of July 1, all unlicensed medical marijuana dispensaries that had not been awarded permits to sell recreational cannabis were forced to close.
The process to integrate Washington’s medical and recreational marijuana markets had been underway since the state passed the Cannabis Patient Protection Act (Senate Bill 5052) in 2015. The WSLCB had actively boosted the number of awarded recreational retail licenses in an effort to provide already-established medical dispensaries the opportunity to obtain the necessary permits. Retail stores have the option of operating solely as a recreational cannabis shop to service all adults or to obtain a “medical marijuana endorsement” and also service registered medical marijuana patients.
The July deadline that was imposed on unlicensed dispensaries severely impacted Washington’s total number of retail stores, which dropped from what Marijuana Business Daily estimates to be between 800 and 1,200 at one point earlier this year to now 420 licensed retail stores.
Of Washington’s current 420 licensed locations, 125 have been awarded a medical marijuana endorsement. Retailers interested in acquiring a medical endorsement are required by law to have a certified medical marijuana consultant on staff and an area of the store that’s been dedicated to issuing medical cards.
Despite the state’s reduction in available retail shops, the jump in sales suggests that medical marijuana patients have opted to acquire their cannabis from a recreational store, whether it possesses a medical endorsement or not.
Since the passing of Initiative 502 in 2012, adults aged 21 and older can legally possess up to 1 oz. of marijuana, 16 oz. of solid marijuana infused products or 72 oz. of liquid marijuana infused products. Its use must be done in private. The state legalized medical marijuana in 1998 with voter-supported Initiative I-692, which allows patients suffering from a number of specified conditions to possess up to 24 oz. of usable marijuana and cultivate 15 marijuana plants.
Recreational marijuana consumers must pay a 37 percent excise tax and a 9.6 percent state sales tax, while registered medical patients are only subject to the excise tax. July’s sales brought in $23.5 million in excise taxes, up from $20 million in June.
In the two years since legalizing adult use marijuana in 2014, Washington’s total cannabis sales exceed $1 billion and have brought the state $273 million in total excise taxes.
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