Article by Kate Martin, The News Tribune
Marijuana sales passed a quiet milestone in Washington state in the first three months of 2016.
For the first time, residents and visitors as a whole spent more on cannabis products than on hard alcohol, based on an analysis of purchase and tax records from two state agencies.
In the first quarter of 2016, people spent $19.1 million more on marijuana than spirits, which includes the cost of the products and its associated taxes. By the second quarter, that gap increased to $52.3 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.
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 almost $100 million in the third quarter of the year, to $398.2 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 state.