New data shows a strong, if plateauing, cannabis market

After years of consistent growth, cannabis sales in Washington slumped this year, albeit slightly, according to new data from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board.

The state's legal market generated $1.38 billion in sales during fiscal year 2022, which created $509.4 million in excise tax revenue for the state. Both numbers are down from 2021, when the state saw $1.49 billion in sales and $533.9 million in taxes generated. Spokane County's numbers are also down, with $151.7 million in retail sales and $56.1 million in tax revenue, compared with $163.8 million in sales and $60.6 million in tax revenue the previous fiscal year.

While the numbers have dipped, they're still the second-highest on record, behind only last year. In Washington this year, $177.86 was spent on average per person through the legal cannabis market — though that number is inflated by sales to out-of-state residents who purchased cannabis in Washington. Spokane County averaged $227.81 in sales per resident. That figure ranked fifth among counties in the state.

The caveat about out-of-state residents is important once again, as border counties continue to lead the way in per-capita spending. Asotin County — home to Clarkston and directly across the Snake River from the larger Lewiston, Idaho — averaged an astonishing $632.47 in sales per resident. Second in the state was Whitman County, home to Washington State University and Pullman, and next to similarly sized Moscow, Idaho, and the University of Idaho. It averaged $264.97 in sales per resident.

Spokane had long held the third-place spot behind those two, but fell last year to fifth behind coastal Grays Harbor County (at $239.44 in sales per resident) and Olympia's Thurston County (at $228.94).

In terms of total sales, the most populous counties unsurprisingly led the way once again. Four counties topped $100 million in sales, led by Seattle's King County, by far the state's largest, at $356 million. The three largest remaining counties — Pierce, Snohomish and Spokane — also joined King in the $100 million-plus club.

On the other end of the spectrum, neither Franklin County nor Garfield County generated a single cent in legal sales or tax revenue. Both counties prohibit licensed dispensaries from operating.

Local counties not already mentioned include Pend Oreille, (averaging $84.01 in sales per resident), Lincoln ($123.90 per resident) and Stevens ($161.91 per resident). ♦

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