Washington state cannabis sales decline for first time since adult-use legalization

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Washington state’s cannabis sales slowed this year for the first time since the state began legal adult-use marijuana sales in 2014.

Retail marijuana sales declined 8% from 2021 to 2022, a loss of about $120 million in revenue, The Seattle Times reported.

Brian Smith, spokesperson for the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, characterized the “dip” in sales as returning to normal after the boom times of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns.

Similar sales trends are playing out in other recreational marijuana markets, including California, Oregon and Colorado.

A study by Seattle-based data analytics firm Headset found that the frequency of marijuana purchases at retail stores and the money people are spending has been declining in those states since the summer of 2021, according to the Times.

In Washington state, Headset found the average consumer purchase of marijuana dropped from $34.14 in July 2021 to $31.41 in July 2022.

Since Washington state legalized adult-use sales 10 years ago, the market has been a success – but not for everyone, as many companies face stiff headwinds.

Challenges include high taxes, a lack of access to capital, low wholesale prices and limited social equity opportunities for minority marijuana entrepreneurs.