A study commissioned by the Washington State Liquor Control Board has found that the state’s marijuana consumption for 2013 is approximately double the amount regulators predicted.
The study, conducted by the RAND Corporation, found that total marijuana use in the state was approximately 175 metric tons (approximately 6.2 million ounces). The number is more than twice the amount predicted by the state’s Office of Financial Management (OFM), which in 2012 pegged marijuana usage at around 85 million metric tons per year.
The higher-than-expected consumption rate bodes well for recreational marijuana sales in Washington, which could begin as early as spring. The state predicted sales of $1 billion in a fully functioning market, while the Marijuana Business Factbook estimates initial revenue of up to $500 million. But the market could be much larger – perhaps even double – based on the latest RAND report.
The data was compiled using a customized online questionnaire of the state’s marijuana users, combined with federal research. The survey included photos of marijuana to help respondents better remember the actual quantity that they use.
The survey found that marijuana users in Kings County, which is dominated by the Seattle metro area, accounted for approximately 30% of the state’s overall consumption.
How the data will impact the state’s marijuana laws is not yet known. An unnamed member of the liquor board said that the original OFM numbers were not used to create the current regulations. But the official added that the board would not immediately change Washington’s marijuana regulations.
The OFM figures were used during the 2012 election, when voters approved the state’s recreational cannabis law, as well as in the agency’s market estimates.