June 7, 2021 Washington State Legal Cannabis Revenue Soars

Published Via the JD Supra Platform

In 2012, voters in Washington State approved a ballot measure that made recreational cannabis legal. Since then, the legal cannabis industry has grown year after year. In certain Washington counties, cannabis purchases now outpace those of tobacco. While some are predicting that a plateau is on the horizon, the latest revenue figures show that growth in the cannabis industry is reaching all-time highs.

Report Shows $2 Billion Addition To The Economy
Based on a report from Washington State University, revenue generated by the sale of legal cannabis continues to climb. In 2020, legal cannabis in Washington added an estimated $1.8 billion to the state’s economy, and this figure is expected to rise to $2.12 billion in 2021. The study also found that the cannabis industry continues to grow at an exponential rate. According to the report, retail cannabis sales grew 21% between 2019 and 2020 and grew 605% between 2015 and 2020. Total tax revenues in 2020 stemming from the cannabis sector, including property taxes, sales & excise taxes, and corporate taxes, amounted to $883.38 million.
The report, which analyzed the cannabis industry in 2020, gathered data from a number of sources to generate its findings. Notably, the report focused not only on retail cannabis sales, but also on growing and processing operations. For example, the report considered cannabis-generated revenue in the soil and agricultural industry, which has benefitted greatly from legalization. Data from companies like Scott’s Miracle Grow and Hawthorne Gardening Company reflected this boost in their sales and revenue in Washington since the legalization of cannabis.

Effect Of Legalized Recreational Home Grow
The study also attempted to predict how legalizing home growing of marijuana for recreational purposes would affect the market. California, Colorado, and Canada all have legalized recreational home grow, albeit with restrictions on volume and flowering. In Washington, it is legal to grow cannabis at home for medical purposes, but a person may not personally grow it for recreational purposes. Some analysts fear that the legalization of recreational home grow in Washington would impede the continued growth of the cannabis industry. Others predict that legalized home grow would simply shift the primary source of cannabis-related tax revenue from retail purchases of recreational cannabis to lighting, soil, and other growing expenses.

Conclusions
While it may not come as a surprise that the study predicts a continued rise in cannabis-related revenue, it also concludes that legalizing recreational home grow would do little to impede that growth. The Washington State University study estimates that the cannabis industry’s predicted revenue of $2.12 billion for the year 2021 without legalized home grow would shift to an estimated revenue of $2.05 to $2.3 billion if home grow of recreational marijuana were legalized. As the numbers clearly indicate, the cannabis industry is predicted to experience continued growth regardless of the legalization of recreational home grow. Still, it remains to be seen exactly how and under what conditions home grow would be implemented in the state, and how the industry would change. With the introduction of a home-grow bill earlier this year, we may be able to see the real impact of home growing of cannabis on Washington’s economy as soon as this year.

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