Seattle has always been known as a great city – after all, it’s where the Space Needle is, Jimi Hendrix was born there, you can see Mt. Rainier (an active volcano) from downtown on a clearish day, and the best Orca whale watching is off San Juan Island, a few hours away. On top of all that, recreational and medical cannabis is legal in Washington, which has significantly bolstered the economy of a state that is the home of Pearl Jam, Microsoft, and Starbucks. Since Washington is also known for its lush greenery, it seems only fitting that large cannabis grow operations would fit right into the landscape – and the state has capitalized on it climate and long growing season in order to bring over $1 billion in recreational cannabis sales since legalization.
How Long Has Cannabis Been Legal in Washington State?
Recreational cannabis sales have been legal in Washington state since July 8, 2014, and during the first six months the program made $15 million. As part of the Colorado-Washington legalized cannabis “experiment,” both states have been wildly, even staggeringly successful, with Colorado topping $995 million in recreational sales in 2015. So far. Washington state is barely ahead of Colorado, and has generated $250 plus for the state coffers with excise taxes. In June alone, $86.7 million of recreational cannabis was sold, which was twice the amount sold last year during the same month. Recreational cannabis has been legal in Colorado since Amendment 64 passed in November of 2012, and April 2016 saw $76.6 million in sales alone. The half billion dollar mark has almost been reached for 2016, so its highly likely that the $1 billion mark will be passed by December for both states.
What are the Best Washington Cannabis Strains and Products?
The best strains in Washington are different from the best strains in Colorado; the growing temperatures and environments are different, as well. Washington’s Cascade Range and other mountain ranges keep the weather temperate all year round, and very wet – you’d think that would be great for cannabis, but it’s actually not. Most Washington grows are indoors, and the top sellers are Blue Dream (in Colorado, too), Dutch Treat, Green Crack, OG Kush, Super Lemon Haze, Cinex, Grape Ape, Blueberry, Sour Diesel, and Girl Scout Cookies. In 2016, Washingtonites loved Dutchberry (Artizen), Blueberry Pie (Green Reaper), Strawberry Mango Haze (Liberty Reach), and Quantum Hammer (Zion Botanicals). Among concentrate options, Dutch Treat was the Dope Cup winner for cartridges, Girl Scout Cookie Ice Wax and Cannatonic for non-solvent recs, and Mandarin OG, and AC/DC shatter won for THC and CBD recs.
Washington’s favorite edibles were the American Baked Co’s parmesan crisps, Odd Duck’s chocolate, and Mad Hatter’s Reese’s Peanut Butter Bar. The Hedgehog’s Cannabis Cocktail Spikers Island Mai Tai flavor won best edible drink, and Green Labs’ Swift’s pressed mint and Honu’s coconut snowballs also won.
Washington’s New Medical Marijuana System
As of July 1, 2016, Washington cannabis stores can all be both medical and recreational and under state agency control. The new database has been “experiencing some software challenges” as it attempts to keep track of both medical and recreational cannabis purchases for many different people (medical purchases are not taxed and recreational purchases are). The Washington state program is complicated, and requires medical dispensary state licensing for operation – certified consultants are helping the process along. Unfortunately, there are not enough consultants enrolled in the Washington course to handle all the dispensaries in the state –without the certified consultant for medical marijuana recommendations in each dispensary, those lacking a consultant can’t recommend a particular strain for a specific condition. In addition, the 8.8% sales tax has to be charged, and customers cannot go over the one ounce limit.
There’s no doubt that Washington will eventually iron out all its issues with the new program – it will just take some time. In the meantime, the state is making money hand over fist for its economy and the people who live there.