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Washington Recreational Marijuna Sales passes $1 Billion

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Written by Jake Ellison

Well, Washington (and tourists and neighbors from border states), you’ve gone and consumed more than $1 billion worth of marijuana since the legal market began in July 2014.

So far, the great destruction of our society has not occurred … or if it is ongoing, it’s slow and sneaky. What has happened, however, is that more than $250 million has been generated in excise tax to the state.

And, the trend is grow, grow, grow: The highest total monthly sales figure was $86.7 million and that was in June. So, the growth in our nascent legal cannabis market continues its month-over-month increase.

  • How far can it go?
  • Can the companies now growing, making products from and selling marijuana stay in business?
  • Will medical marijuana patients purchase from retail stores now that the medical system has been folded into the recreational system?
  • Will the Legislature allow home grows? How about letting Seattle have coffee shop-style places for people to use marijuana indoors and off the streets? What about eliminating the dumb “sharing is a felony” law?
  • Will Washington weed ever be as state- and citizen-supported and bragged about as Washington wines?

If California votes in November to create a recreational market, it will quickly dwarf the combined markets of Washington, Colorado, Oregon and Alaska. Three other states will vote on legalization on Nov. 8: Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada.

When the Feds give it up and decriminalize cannabis, will Washington be in a good position to get our premiere cannabis on the top shelves of marijuana shops around the country?

“There would have to be some fundamental things about the regulations as they are right now that would have to change in order to allow Washington companies to succeed on a national scale. And I think one of the biggest disadvantages that we have, especially compared to Oregon, is the restriction on out of state actual ownership of the licenses. Probably the biggest problem that my clients have is access to capital,” said Andy Aley, a Seattle business attorney with experience advising the cannabis industry, at a recent conference.

“The regulations that we have right now are forcing companies to be very good if they are going to be successful. They are primed to participate in a really competitive industry and be successful. But the state-level restrictions would have to ease up a bit in order to make that happen.”

Time to roll up our sleeves and get in position … seems to me.

Jake Ellison can be reached at jakeellison@seattlepi.com. Follow Jake on Twitter attwitter.com/Jake_News. Also, swing by and *LIKE* his page on Facebook. If Google Plus is your thing, check out our marijuana coverage here.

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