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Washington Cannabis Sales Surge, Could Soon Overtake Liquor

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — Sales of cannabis products in Washington state have for the first time surpassed $200 million in a quarter.

Residents and visitors bought more marijuana than ever before in the second quarter of 2016, the News Tribune reports, based on an analysis of purchase and tax records from two state agencies.

In the first quarter of 2016 — January, February and March — people spent $54.8 million more on spirits than cannabis, which includes the cost of the products and its associated taxes. By the second quarter — April, May and June — that gap closed to nearly $37 million. Those amounts include taxes levied by the state on those products. Spirits sales do not include wine and beer. Marijuana sales include all cannabis products, but not paraphernalia.

Cannabis sales in the second quarter of 2016 amounted to nearly $212 million. Spirits sales in the same period amounted to almost $249 million.

In July, the state closed medical cannabis shops, making all sales go through licensed recreational storefronts. Sales at retail cannabis shops shot up by $66.6 million in the third quarter of the year, to $278.6 million.

Third-quarter figures for spirits, including sales directly to customers and to bars and restaurants, won’t be released until early next year.

Washington voters legalized recreational marijuana in 2012. Earlier this month voters in California, Massachusetts and Nevada approved recreational cannabis. Colorado, Oregon and Alaska have also legalized recreational marijuana.

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