Washington Is Overtaking Colorado in Cannabis Sales

An ATM sits next to a rack of marijuana clone plants that are used to grow medical marijuana, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, at The Joint, a medical marijuana cooperative in Seattle. Washington became the second U.S. state to adopt rules for the recreational sale of marijuana Wednesday, but currently, many banks will not due business with marijuana dispensaries, due to fear of violating federal laws. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

The Colorado Department of Revenue just released its end of the year cannabis sales data for 2016. (Actually the state only releases its tax revenue data. We did the math to figure out total sales.) After adding December’s total, the annual sales figure for the Rocky Mountain State came in at $1,269,822,379.31.

Washington state recorded $1,109,088,781.00 in sales for the same year.

Hidden in those annual figures, though, is an interesting trend. Over the past three months, Washington has quietly overtaken Colorado as the nation’s leading legal cannabis state, in terms of monthly sales. Colorado sales in October, November, and December were $114 million, $103 million, and $111 million, respectively. During those same months Washington recorded $115 million, $112 million, and $112 million in sales.

 

What happened? Medical sales. Prior to July 2016, medical sales in Washington state were not reported to the state Liquor and Cannabis Board. On July 1, 2016, all medical sales were moved into state-licensed adult use stores, where they were reported as part of total cannabis sales. Those medical sales had been happening all the while; they just hadn’t been reported to the state prior to July 1.

The graph below shows cannabis sales since that date.

Since the integration of medical with adult-use last summer, Washington state cannabis sales consistently topped $110 million. Prior to that, the state’s cannabis industry had never reached $100 million in sales in a month.

Colorado still has Washington beat on one score. With 5.5 million people–compared to Washington’s 7.3 million–Colorado remains the undisputed champion in per capita sales.