According to the Washington State Liquor Control Board, legal marijuana sales have transformed the face of the state’s economy in a record-setting way.
In just the first year alone, marijuana sales have generated over $70 million in tax revenue, which is almost double the amount of the state’s initial tax projection of $36 million. With numbers like this, it will not be long before other states start considering the financial benefits of legalizing marijuana.
As more policymakers continue to look for ways to reduce deficits and prevent budget gaps, many will likely start to consider the benefits and potential revenue that can be gained from sales following the legalization of marijuana.
While the amount of money being generated from the marijuana industry is not enough to financially run a state, it does keep the money out of the hands of drug dealers and illegal marijuana operations. The funds can help to boost local economies by creating job opportunities and more growth in various sectors.
Marijuana sales in Washington have far exceeded original expectations. Sales in the state have also trumped Colorado’s legal marijuana sales. Both states legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, and although Colorado became the first state in the U.S. to regulate the sale of marijuana in January of 2014, Washington was still able to generate more revenue. This occurred despite the fact that Washington did not start regulating marijuana use until July of 2014.
Marijuana has become a booming industry for Washington. The state is reporting $1.5 million in daily revenue from its 160 marijuana shops. According to data provided by the Washington Liquor Control Board, monthly marijuana sales are increasing at an astronomical rate.
Since July 1, 2014, the state’s marijuana shops have sold over 22,000 pounds of marijuana and more than 700,000 marijuana-infused edibles and liquids. During this time, state-licensed producers harvested more than 60,000 pounds of marijuana flower.
Washington has over 6 million square feet of space approved for the sole purpose of marijuana cultivation. It is apparent the state is setting itself up to be in a prime position to take full advantage of the legal marijuana industry. Although Alaska and Oregon have recently legalized marijuana for recreational use, the first legalized marijuana shops in both states are not scheduled to open until 2016.
Currently, marijuana is still federally classified as illegal in the United States. However, as more states look at the financial benefits Washington state has reaped and marijuana use becomes legal in more parts of the country, it may only be a matter of time before marijuana revenue grows to the point that it overtakes that of the organic food industry.