Washington’s marijuana sales are nearing hard alcohol sales as sales spill over $200-million in a single fiscal quarter. The second quarter of 2016 proved to be the most successful for both resident and tourist recreational marijuana sales. Marijuana sales are reported as being nearly $212-million in the second quarter with hard alcohol sales reportedly around $249-million.
The first quarter of 2016 brought $54.8-million more sales for hard alcohol than marijuana, according to The News Tribune. The second quarter allowed marijuana to catch-up a bit, by closing the gap by $37-million. Sales totals also reflect taxes charged on those sales. Hard liquor (spirits), does not include beer or wine, while marijuana sales include all marijuana products, excluding accessories/paraphernalia.
Third quarter sales results for both industries are due for release in early 2017. Some industry leaders speculate that the recreational marijuana industry in Washington has ample room to grow. In Tacoma, Washington, medical marijuana dispensaries were closed, but 16 recreational marijuana stores opened.
According to Vicki Chirstophersen, Washington CannaBusiness Association leader commented that the regulated marijuana marketplace successfully competes against the black market.
Christophersen said, “We wouldn’t be selling to that level if we weren’t.” She also says that the price of products available now, regardless of taxes, “are competitive with what we thought the black market was at one point.”
Washington continues to be a controversial state as counties and cities maintain bans on retail marijuana stores. Others have the marijuana industry on-hold while local governments decipher regulations. This is due to some local areas wanting to see how the state was regulating the operation of recreational marijuana sales.
Jim Doherty, Municipal Research and Services Center legal consultant, said, “I think some people were afraid these stores would open and there’d be these long-haired people hanging around in vans. People have gotten used to the idea that these look like retail stores now.”
At 37%, Washington has the highest recreational marijuana sales tax in the country. Tacoma is expected to generate almost $375,000 in marijuana sales tax, which is more than projected for Seattle.