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Legal pot sales surge in August

Recreational marijuana sales have soared in August, thanks in part to a big Friday that came in the midst of several large-scale marijuana events in Western Washington.

According to sales figures tracked by the Washington State Liquor Control Board, more than $5.1 million worth of legal pot has been sold in the state since Aug. 1. About a sixth of that total was sold Friday, Aug. 15, during the “Canna Con” exposition in Tacoma and the annual Hempfest celebration in Seattle. The state reported sales of about $860,000 worth of product on that day, doubling the closest competitor for busiest sales day nationwide.

Marijuana sales statewide reported by Liquor Control Board, 7/6 to 8/25
The Liquor Control Board says more than $8.3 million worth of marijuana has been sold legally since July 8, with excise taxes reaching more than $2 million.

That $5.1 million figure is almost $2 million more than the amount of legal weed sold in July, over roughly the same number of days.

While the expo is likely one of the causes of the big sales day earlier this month, Liquor Control Board spokesman Brian Smith said many factors are contributing to a growth in sales.

“As of last week, we'd licensed 46 retailers, with something in the upper 30s reporting sales,” Smith said. “More and more product is coming into the market.”

Some businesses are reporting their sales at the end of the week, leading to a normal bump on Fridays and Saturdays, Smith said. Another encouraging sign is the rate at which the department is receiving owed taxes, he said. The Liquor Control Board said 97-percent of the taxes owed had been paid to the state, a rate Smith called impressive.

In addition, about 75 percent of taxes were paid with a check rather than cash, indicating retailers were using banks to deposit their money, Smith said. He did not say whether those checks were issued in the name of a business or an individual.

WA Lege Day 29: Is there $200M a year in legalized pot?

OLYMPIA – Washington state could collect about $200 million a year by legalizing marijuana, then regulating, taxing and selling it in state liquor stores, a legislative panel was told Tuesday.

But  the state could also wind up with no money and any liquor store employee who rang up a marijuana sale facing five years in federal prison, the chairman of the House Public Safety Committee warned.

The committee spent about two hours Tuesday morning considering House Bill 1550, a version of the perennial push for the state to legalize marijuana, or cannabis as the sponsors prefer to call the plant. Under the plan, any adult could smoke marijuana, grow their own in a plot no bigger than 50 square feet, and the state would regulate and sell the drug at liquor stores. Farmers could also grow hemp, which comes from the plant.



If passed, this would put the state in the forefront efforts to legalize marijuana, which remains an illegal and controlled substance under federal law. That would be a good thing as other states follow suit, said Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson, D-Seattle, the prime sponsor.

“Why shouldn’t Washington reap the benefits of legalization,” asked Dickerson, who estimated the state could collect $400 million per biennium from taxes and sales. She likened home-grown marijuana to home-brewing of beer and wine making.