CannaLaw I 502 Washington

CannaLaw I 502 Washington

Story by Mat Lee

     Ever since the good citizens of Washington State re-legalized cannabis for recreational use by adults 21 and over in one of the highest voter turnouts in the nation, there has been a huge influx of revenue, both to the state, as well as to the cannabis savvy business owners who make up this great industry. This revenue goes towards things like healthcare, research, substance-abuse prevention, and most importantly, education.

     But how do we know how much money there is? How do we know which county is producing selling the most cannabis? Who are the big movers and shakers in the industry month to month? The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board has a weekly marijuana report on their marijuana dashboard that updates each Wednesday. Here we can find information on everything from production and licensing numbers, to compliance checks and sales reports. They also offer a downloadable PDF of this information at the bottom of the site.

     This information is pulled directly from the Biotrack THC traceability system. There is also the raw data floating around on the WSLCB website.  Anyone can run their own SQL table commands on the data to get what they want or let the fine humans behind DabSoftware do the hard lifting.  DabSoftware runs the web site, which presents the WSLCB data into a much more consumable form.

     Let’s take a look at the numbers.  As of March 2016, there are currently 680 recreational producer / processors serving 219 retailers. Up to February, as a state we’ve consumed $435,272,377 worth of recreational cannabis sold from the retail outlets. The initiative states there shall be a total of 334 total retail outlets serving the people of Washington.

     That number was arrived at based on population density, safety and security issues, and of course, discouraging illegal markets. How are we doing so far? How does that translate to tax revenue?  This turns out to be $175,483,048 in cannabis excise tax. That’s not even looking at the additional $34+ million in additional sales tax revenue assuming a nine percent average.

     To understand these numbers a little more clearly, let’s talk about what this means. Before July 2015, each level of the model paid its share of the tax.  This is a value added tax (VAT).  Every producer, processor, and retailer each had to pay 25% of their cannabis revenue in the form of an excise tax to the Washington State Dept. of Revenue. A new tax structure came into play after July 2015, and mandated a flat 37% tax that only retailers pay, thus removing the VAT.

     So where are the big movers and shakers in the Washington cannabis industry calling home up to this point? According to the numbers for the month of February 2016 for retailers by county, King, Spokane and Snohomish counties are in the top three spots with King County showing some royally high numbers at $ $ 4,708,184 in excise tax. The next two in line come in under the two million mark at $1,816,400 for Spokane County and $1,207,593 for Snohomish County.

     The top processing counties for February 2016 include King, Spokane and Snohomish, but when we look at the top producing counties this is where things change. The number one spot is taken by Adams County at $413,632 in excise tax. Thurston is number two with $397,899, and Klickitat number three at $352,078. Much lower numbers, which tells you where the money is truly being made. I’ve heard this time and time again from farmers who break their backs working their fields. If you want to make the big bucks, don’t be a grower.

     Who are these retailers, producers, and processors claiming the top spot for February 2016? As far as retail sales go, Main Street Marijuana in Clark County is at the top of the list with $1,470,722 in retail sales. Number two and three is Uncle Ike’s and Greenside in King County with $1,360,234 and $805,647 respectively. As far as total sales go for retail, Main Street Marijuana is at the top with $20,046,318.

     Moving on to the top producer/processor in Washington for February 2016, we have Northwest Cannabis Solutions in Thurston county residing in the number one spot with $1,219,558 in sales. A close second is Grow Op Farms from Spokane County with $1,074,503 in sales, with Artizen Cannabis Company trailing in third with $377,082 in sales. They are also located in Thurston County. If we look at total processor only sales so far, Xtracted Labs from King county is number one with $236,319, followed by Mr. Wholesale and Leasing from Spokane county with $161,460 and Evergreen Herbal in King county with $159,056 in total sales.

     Who’s producing all of this charismatic cannabis we the cannabis ‘cannasseurs’ are consuming? As of right now there are currently 138 producer licenses and another 641 producer/processor licenses that have accumulated a total of 84,130 pounds of usable cannabis produced so far this fiscal year (July 2015 – June 2016). Who are the top three for producers for February, 2016?

      Sun Grown Organix in Okanogan County holds the top spot with $67,341 in sales for the month of February.  The second and third spots go to New Leaf Enterprises in Chelan County with $64,164 and Mean the Green from Spokane County with $63,292. Not as much money as the retailers or the processors, but then again, under the new tax system, they won’t be getting taxed as much. Total sales for producers only have OG Farms in Mason County with $801,388, followed by Olympic Growers from Spokane County with $703,308 and Mean the Green from Spokane County with $556,263in total sales.

     It takes a lot of time and money, not to mention the motivation and energy to pull together a team that can get things done. People see these numbers and think that it’s time to cash in on the cannabis gold rush, that everyone working in the industry are a bunch of marijuana millionaires. But keep in mind, a lot of these places have put those sales numbers and then some into getting established, validated by the WLSCB, and putting plants in the ground.  It’s an expensive venture to get into.  You want to do things right and be able to scale well. But for those doing it right, it’s starting to pay off. There have been countless jobs created in Washington thanks to forward thinking and more progressive laws. Let’s hope more states start moving in this direction.