Legal Non-Medical Marijuana Use Debuting in Washington

Washington State is becoming the second state to allow the use of cannabis for recreational purposes this summer and many eyes are watching to see its effects. Washington, along with Colorado, is being seen by people on both sides of the marijuana legalization issue as an important test case and it is hoped that both states will provide helpful statistical data to shed some light on the matter for other states that are considering similar measures.

In November, the District of Columbia, Alaska, and Oregon are speculated to possibly consider legalization measures and proponents of cannabis legalization have their eyes set on Vermont, California and Nevada for 2016. When states consider the issue in the future, the particular methods and regulations employed by Colorado and Washington and the information on how their measures have played out will help inform their own efforts and legislation dealing with legalization.

There are a few concerns still hanging over recreational use in Washington. Thus far, revenues from taxation of cannabis sales in Colorado have fallen short of initial expectations. Then there is the gulf of profitability between medical and recreational sales in Washington. Recreational sales will be fairly regulated as well as being limited by quantity whereas medical sales bear neither of these impediments. Medical sale prices are averaging around eight to twelve dollars per gram but taking into account initial costs and taxes, recreational retailers will likely be paying in the neighborhood of twenty-five dollars per gram and will have to mark up that price in order to turn any profit. With the drastic difference in ultimate pricing, there is worry that there is little incentive to engage in the recreational side of the cannabis business in Washington.