Washington Cannabis Sales Decline for First Time Since Legalizing

Following nearly a decade of sales growth capped by a significant pandemic-related surge, regulated cannabis sales in Washington have slowed this year for the first time.

Full story after the jump.

Cannabis sales in Washington have slowed this year for the first time in the decade since voters first approved the state’s legalization language, the Seattle Times reports. The drop ends a trend of growing sales that has continued since the Washington market’s 2014 launch, including a significant surge during the pandemic.

“What you’re seeing as a ‘dip’ is really sales returning to normal growth as more people returned to in-person work.” —Brian Smith, Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board spokesperson, via the Seattle Times

Washington collected $509 million in excise revenue for the 2022 fiscal year.

The Washington CannaBusiness Association said the declining sales could be partly due to high taxes on cannabis products — the state holds a 37% excise tax on cannabis sales which, combined with an already high sales tax rate, sees some Washingtonians paying an average of 46.2% in taxes on cannabis purchases, the report said.

Washington’s adult-use cannabis sales are expected to top out this year at between $1.3 and $1.5 billion, according to estimates in the 2022 MJBiz Factbook.

Washington and Colorado were the first two states to formally adopt cannabis legalization policies in 2012 but this year, both states have reported declining cannabis sales. Since those early market launches, 19 states plus Washington D.C. have followed in Washington and Colorado’s footsteps to end cannabis prohibition at the local level but the plant remains federally illegal, complicating the state-legal industries.

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