When medical cannabis dispensaries around the US first opened their doors, there was an immediate shortage of weed. But now, a new study from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board in conjunction with the Cannabis Law and Policy Project (CLPP) at the University of Washington (UW) suggests that some states with legal marijuana laws have been working overtime to increase their herb supply.
In particular, Washington, which was the focus of the report, currently has enough green from state-licensed cultivators to meet the demands of local medical and recreational consumers. The team of researchers assigned to conduct the study was composed of UW law students and industry professionals. A whopping 467 contacts were used during the survey portion of the report.
No Shortage in Washington
At the moment, Washington licenses 12 million square feet of canopy (the space allotted for growing cannabis indoors or outdoors) for registered growers to produce the plant for consumption. Researchers highlighted that the space allotment does not paint a clear picture of how much land is being utilized for growing marijuana. According to Liquor and Cannabis Board spokesman Mikhail Carpenter, 10 million square feet of canopy is more than enough to keep dispensaries in business; and a range between 1.7 million and two million square feet is sufficient for sustaining operations in the area.
“It was important to design this study the right way and engage in careful empirical research reaching out directly to medical dispensaries and growers across the state,” said Sean O’Connor, principal investigator for the report, CLPP faculty director and Boeing International Professor at UW Law.
Washington’s Cannabis Market
A closer look at Washington’s thriving marijuana market indicates that the community is working hard to keep the sector moving. Data from the report shows that there are roughly 273 medical marijuana dispensaries in the state as of January this year. Most registered stores sell around 9.55 pounds of bud every month. With supply and demand at an all-time high, the average price of cannabis (per gram) is less than $10. When it comes to sales, herbs are still top choice for marijuana consumers in the state. Around 60 percent of sales from dispensaries come from cannabis flower. Concentrates, such as wax and extracts, account for 22 percent, while edibles compromise 18 percent of sales in the region.
In order to balance out the market, local officials have stopped accepting applications for growing licenses. Washington is also in the middle of combining its medical and recreational markets together, and a steady cannabis supply could ensure that a surge in buyers won’t derail the nascent industry. “Under the new rules, medical marijuana patients will still be able to grow their own medicine. But the current collective gardens will go away and medical dispensaries will have to obtain a state license or close,” explained Austin Jenkins from KPLU.