Chart of the Week: Huge Acceleration in Washington State Recreational Marijuana Sales

By Becky Olson

Washington State’s recreational cannabis industry started off slow but ended the first full year of sales with a bang.

Retail cannabis stores recorded $180 million in revenue from early July of last year through this June, fueled by a significant sales spike over the past few months, according to data from the state Liquor Control Board.

About 60% of the revenue total was generated in the last four months alone as the industry hit its stride, while monthly sales doubled from January to April.

Retail sales so far in 2015 are already around $140 million, well on their way to meeting and possibly surpassing the $200 million-$300 million estimate for the year in the Marijuana Business Factbook.

Sales growth in Washington has been explosive and highly variable, with month-to-month increases ranging from 9.5% to 140%.

In the first full month of legal sales – August 2014 – retail stores reported $5 million in revenues, which was more than double the amount from July (sales began on July 8). While that ranks as the biggest monthly increase on a percentage basis over the past year, sales have seen their largest increases dollar-wise  over the past two quarters.

Despite the fluctuations, the median monthly growth rate – a more conservative measure than the average in instances where there are extreme outliers – is still a healthy 24%.

Washington’s monthly retail sales now top $30 million, which is not too far behind Colorado, where recreational revenues are averaging about $40 million per month.

As 2014 came to a close, the disparity between the two states’ monthly rec sales was large – with Colorado stores raking in roughly triple the amount of money as their Washington counterparts on a monthly basis. Washington is now quickly catching up, which has dispelled some initial concerns about the viability of the recreational market there.

The growth rates in Washington are not sustainable into perpetuity, so expect to see the acceleration taper off for the remainder of 2015, though the market as a whole will likely still continue to grow.

Washington’s slow start and then tremendous growth is a positive sign for the next fledgling recreational markets – Oregon and Alaska – as well as other states that embrace a recreational marijuana marketplace.

Becky Olson can be reached at [email protected]

5 comments on “Chart of the Week: Huge Acceleration in Washington State Recreational Marijuana Sales
  1. Peaceful Herbs on

    the data talks for itself. If the lawmakers in the other 46 states still do not see the benefits vs. the cost of enforcing a herb, they are honestly doing injustice to their own local jurisdictions.

  2. calicorock on

    …..a win for everyone except King County and Seattle medical marijuana patients and the dispensaries serving them. I’m hoping the majority of these suddenly “illegal” dispensaries just give the city a middle finger and keep serving patients in need.

  3. calicorock on

    Read/watch below regarding the greed and ugliness of that is marijuana Washington style. It didn’t have to be like this. Any State considering legalization should consider how bad a concept a state Lottery system for marijuana licences is. That’s at the root of this. Washington’s entire LCB scam needs to be tossed out and re-done by the voter’s. It should be regulated by the State Health Dept. NOT an antiquated 1920’s liquor prohibitionist department: High blood pressure? Have your nitro tablets handy this will blow your top:

    • John on

      Hello Calico,

      Curious if you’re in the 502 business. As a processor we’re going through the legal wranglings and failures of the LCB. My partner wrote a proposal to the DoH on medical marijuana and get LCB completely out.


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