Article by Kate Martin, The News Tribune
Sales of marijuana products are nipping at the heels of hard alcohol and have for the first time surpassed $200 million in a quarter.
Residents and visitors bought more marijuana than ever before in the second quarter of 2016, based on an analysis of purchase and tax records from two state agencies.
In the first quarter of 2016 — January, February and March — people spent $54.8 million more on spirits than marijuana, which includes the cost of the products and its associated taxes. By the second quarter — April, May and June — that gap closed to nearly $37 million. Those amounts include taxes levied by the state on those products. Spirits sales do not include wine and beer. Marijuana sales include all cannabis products, but not paraphernalia.
Marijuana sales in the second quarter of 2016 amounted to nearly $212 million. Spirits sales in the same period amounted to almost $249 million.
In July, the state shuttered medical marijuana shops, making all sales go through licensed recreational marijuana storefronts. Sales at retail pot shops shot up by $66.6 million in the third quarter of the year, to $278.6 million.
Third-quarter figures for spirits, including sales directly to customers and to bars and restaurants, won’t be released until early next year.
Industry leaders say the retail cannabis industry only has room to grow in Washington.