Legal marijuana sales in Spokane County, Washington, were higher than sales of wine, beer, bread, and milk last year.
Cannabis retailers in the county received slightly more than $43 million, or an average of $225.64 per household, in sales during 2015. According to the Consumer Expenditure Survey, the average Spokane household purchased $232.10 in beer and spent $154.85 on wine. Meanwhile, area families only spent $155.37 on milk and $109.71 on bread last year.
Thad Stenlund, store manager of Satori in Spokane, said he sees an increasing number of new customers of all ages coming in the store almost daily.
“I don’t really think it is that surprising to see those kind of numbers and when you look at what like alcohol sales, you know we sell a variety of different products. We sell edibles, we sell marijuana, and we sell concentrated marijuana.”
Washington state law allows anyone older than 21, regardless of where they live, to buy weed from the 17 licensed shops in Spokane. The statistics do not take into account sales made to people who do not live in the county.
Brian Smith, a spokesman for the Cannabis Board, said the legal marijuana sales average disregards the “80/20 rule,” which says 20 percent of people buy 80 percent of the pot. A study done in 2013 by Rand Corp. concluded that approximately one-fifth of the population bought a large portion of the available legal marijuana.
As reported by the Seattle Times, sales of legal marijuana in Spokane reached $12.4 million between July and September. During that same period, consumers spent $12.6 million at bookstores and $15.8 million on arts, entertainment, and recreation, including live-music venues and museums.
For the first three months in 2016, revenues increased to $14.5 million, with March being the biggest month at $5 million.
The Washington Liquor and Cannabis board reported revenues of roughly $2.8 million a day across the state in 2015. Many expect sales to rise even further as medical marijuana dispensaries will be controlled by the Liquor and Cannabis Board starting in July.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, sales of legalized weed nationwide reached $5.4 billion in 2015, far exceeding 2014’s total of $4.6 billion. Of the $5.4 billion, legal recreational marijuana revenues were $998 million. By comparison, an estimated $48 billion and $43 billion were spent on alcohol and tobacco, respectively.
Currently, there are four states, including Washington, that allow recreational use of marijuana and several more will be voting on the issue later this year. The District of Columbia and 23 other states currently allow cannabis use for medical purposes.
While there is still much controversy over the issue of marijuana legalization, most people in the U.S. are comfortable with the idea. An October Gallop poll found that 60 percent of Americans want to legalize recreational marijuana, whereas 81 percent believe cannabis for medical reasons should be allowed.
Washington state decriminalized recreational marijuana in November 2012, but sales did not begin until July 2014 as the first authorized stores opened in Seattle. Current law allows a person to use marijuana as long as it is on private property and out of the public view.
A user can legally possess up to one ounce of weed that must be purchased from a state-approved store. Additionally, marijuana-related paraphernalia, vaporizers, up to 16 ounces of solid marijuana-infused product, and 72 ounces of liquid-infused product are allowed.
Transportation of marijuana from Washington to another state is illegal under state law. Also, use of cannabis is considered unlawful on any federal land, like national parks and national forests, within the state.
Last year, Washington state cannabis laws were changed to allow tax-revenue sharing with local governments based on sales, which translates to more money going to cities and counties. Spokane County is expected to receive $442,917 from the state in excise taxes on legal marijuana sales. The city of Spokane will collect about $123,011 of that, while Spokane Valley will get roughly $75,824.
[Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images]