Focusing on Washington State’s Well-Run Cannabis Market
News from www.WashingtonMy420Network.com
With many states that have legalized adult-use recreational cannabis sales, data has been a bit fuzzy to accumulate. Not to mention, some are still operating slowly because of issues they’ve run up against. In Washington state’s case, however, their legalized market seems to be a “well-run machine.” That stems, perhaps, from the fact that Washington (along with Colorado) was actually the one of the first U.S. states to legalize recreational use of marijuana, and second in recreational marijuana sales. In other words, it fits the bill nicely of being a skilled “parent” to this ever-burgeoning industry.
It’s officially been five years since Washington state legalized cannabis. Since then, annual sales have surpassed the milestone of one billion dollars, and with a 37% excise tax on cannabis products – which the consumer pays at the time of purchase – this particular industry is the cause for a big expansion of the state’s coffers. If doing the math, this turns out to be a collection of more than $720 million from retail cannabis sales since voters first legalized the industry.
This windfall of tax revenue is actually more than experts on the Washington State Liquor & Cannabis Board (WSLCB) ever expected. When looking back at what the initial projections were, this is not a surprise; they were off, to say the least. Washington tax revenue from the market for 2017 was projected for $120 million. Yet, in reality, that year saw more than $315 million, and the projections continued to be underestimations for the following years.
Washington state also has a framework in place for where the revenue goes. And even though $720 million sounds like a lot of money when reading the figure, it actually only makes up 0.49 percent of the state’s budget. When it comes to the spending of the revenue, Washington state has its own established way of doling out the money to certain sectors. Unlike Colorado, who puts most of their collected cannabis tax revenue into public education, Washington’s history (i.e., 2018) had the largest amount ($262 million) go towards the state Medicaid program. The second largest area to receive dollars was the State General Fund ($80 million).
Turning in another direction of help and support for its citizens, Washington put $28 million into the Department of Social and Health Services for the purpose of promoting prevention and reducing substance abuse. Through 2019, some of those funds were also allocated to youth residential treatment services for addiction and the state’s addiction hotline.
Marijuana education and public health programs are also prevalent in the state as they allocate revenue towards them, and money has also been spent to research the long and short-term effects of cannabis in general.
As sales continue to grow on a monthly basis, and the revenue continues to be allocated in great ways for their citizens, Washington introduced a Cannabis Compliance Consultant Team just recently, on January 21, 2021. Dedicated to assisting and supporting the cannabis industry, the goal of this particular ‘team’ is to help licensees understand and comply with state cannabis requirements, laws and rules (RCWs and WACs), and to help them achieve and maintain compliance. Voluntary participation with the consultation team is available for many in the industry – from cannabis producers and processors to retailers, researchers, and transporter licensees.
With consultants assigned to geographic areas to provide for statewide coverage, they will help build strong working relationships between all participants in the market. They will also be responsible for setting up visits with marijuana licensees called “annual inspections.” Here, they will walk through the business, identify compliance gaps or issues, and make suggestions on how to correct any concerns. Another benefit comes from the fact that the team will assist shop owners in training all staff on how to maintain responsible marijuana sales. (https://lcb.wa.gov/marj/marj).
Other states can follow Washington’s example of how to legalize an adult-use cannabis market. This is not a surprise; after all, being one of the first, this is definitely a state that seems to have all their ducks in a row.
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