Washington State’s Progressive Licensed Marijuana Economy

Washington State has one of the most progressive licensed marijuana economies in the country. Never has that been more obvious than it was this past week when the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) heard recommendations from its staff to increase the number of marijuana retail stores from 334 to 556. That’s an increase of more than 66%!

But that’s not all!

According to WSLCB Director Rick Garza, qualified patients in Washington can now grow their own marijuana, or they can own or join a four-member cooperative to grow it. The WSLCB’s goal is to make sure “medical patients have access to the products they need.”

Compare this goal to the slow moving licensed marijuana economy in Florida and the small licensed marijuana industry in Connecticut, and there can be no argument that Washington’s marijuana economy is very progressive.

Washington’s Licensed Medical Marijuana Market Value

Last week, BOTEC Analysis Corporation released a comprehensive report entitled Estimating the Size of the Medical Cannabis Market in Washington State. The report reveals many ways that Washington’s licensed marijuana economy is progressive, and one of the simplest ways to understand it is by looking at the market value breakdown.

Currently, the value of the marijuana market in Washington is $1.3 billion. It’s a huge industry! The chart below shows the medical marijuana market value breakdown in Washington State from the BOTEC Analysis Corporation report.

washington state marijuana market value 2015
(Click to enlarge the image)

The largest share of the market is dominated by licensed medical marijuana at 37% ($480 million) followed by licensed recreational marijuana at 35% ($460 million).

That means 72% of Washington state’s marijuana market is controlled by licensed medical and recreational businesses, and only 28% ($390 million) is controlled by illegal “businesses” which is a very big deal. Think of how much money has been kept out of the illicit drug sales market since Washington legalized medical and recreational marijuana!

However, legalization isn’t the only factor at play. Washington didn’t just legalize marijuana. The state makes sure supply meets demand by matching the number of licensed retailers with the number of consumers.

When the WSLCB increases the number of retail marijuana licenses in the state, those licenses will be allocated to retailer applicants in areas with the highest consumer demand first. For example, the number of licenses available in the ten counties and jurisdictions with the highest medical marijuana sales will double. Counties and jurisdictions that are not in the top ten in terms of medical marijuana sales will see a 75% increase in retailer licenses.

Since the WSLCB announced it would increase the number of retail marijuana licenses on October 12th, a total of 1,194 applications have been submitted. Only 222 new licenses will be awarded, so there is still a lot of room for growth in Washington’s licensed marijuana economy!

The State of the Washington Licensed Marijuana Economy

We’re tracking the Washington State marijuana economy using the Cannabiz Database, and in the coming weeks, we’ll publish our own report that digs deep into the industry data. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter so you don’t miss its release!

The Connecticut report is available now! Click to download your free copy of Tracking the Connecticut Licensed Marijuana Economy: 2015 Edition.

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