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Spokane County marijuana sales up slightly in February, amid potential federal action

FILE - A harvested Cinnex marijuana plant is displayed at a pot farm, Oct. 18, 2016, near Spangle, Wash. Marijuana sales countywide grew in February, but didn’t show a significant increase following comments from Washington, D.C., indicating greater enforcement of federal laws governing the drug. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
FILE - A harvested Cinnex marijuana plant is displayed at a pot farm, Oct. 18, 2016, near Spangle, Wash. Marijuana sales countywide grew in February, but didn’t show a significant increase following comments from Washington, D.C., indicating greater enforcement of federal laws governing the drug. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

The legal marijuana industry generated nearly $13 million worth of revenue in Spokane County in February, fueled by a slight increase in sales of pot at retail shops.

Statements from President Donald Trump’s administration did not seem to spur a rush on marijuana last month, however.

Stores operating in the county saw an increase in sales of about 2.8 percent to $7.1 million in February compared to January, according to figures released this week by the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board. But that’s far less than the 10.2 percent increase seen in sales between January and February 2016, and an even smaller share of the 33.5 percent increase seen in sales between January and February 2015, the first year of legal recreational sales.

The 37 percent excise tax on legal marijuana sales means Spokane County stores generated $2.6 million in state revenue last month.

A total of 169 marijuana businesses, including retailers, producers and processors, reported earnings in Spokane County last month. Processors contributed $5.3 million to the revenue total, while growers posted sales of $550,000.

Late last month, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said in a news conference states allowing recreational marijuana sales should expect “greater enforcement” of the federal law criminalizing the drug. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a longtime opponent of marijuana who was confirmed to his post Feb. 8, later said pot should not be sold “at every corner grocery store.”

The Liquor and Cannabis Board does not publish sales of individual marijuana stores by day, but does release total statewide sales in 24-hour periods. Sales statewide did not spike following Spicer’s comments, nor did they jump following Sessions’ confirmation or his comments later in the month.