(The Middle Sq.) – COVID-19 could not cease Washington’s hashish business from rising in 2020, however state information reveals the speed of newcomers to the market lags behind different states.
Washington is one in all 17 states to legalize hashish, each medically and recreationally. Since 2016, all hashish licensing is regulated and enforced by the Washington State Liquor and Hashish Board (WSLCB), limiting the variety of hashish licensees within the state.
Yearly, the company votes to elevate the cap on grower and dispensary licenses. In 2020, that quantity fell behind different hashish markets.
WSLCB information obtained by The Middle Sq. present the company issued 70 new retail permits statewide, with 41 pending by the tip of the yr. That bumps the variety of dispensaries in Washington to 1,005 or about 6.2 per 100,000 folks. It additionally marks a 33% improve from the 334 dispensaries in 2015 when the WSLCB first started accepting purposes.
Washington’s per-capita price is the second-lowest among the many states to legalize hashish throughout the board, behind California, which boasts a per capita price of 1.6 dispensaries per 100,000 folks.
Based mostly on data from hashish business tracker Verilife, Oregon leads the nation in dispensaries per capita. The state was the primary within the nation to decriminalize the possession of hashish in 1973 and absolutely legalized it in 2015. It boasts 660 dispensaries statewide. That is regardless of the state’s 17% excise tax on retail hashish gross sales or the second-highest within the nation subsequent to Washington’s, which stands at 37%.
Overtaxation stays an enormous challenge within the hashish business, particularly in Oregon, the place state lawmakers tried to permit native governments to triple hashish excise taxes. The proposal failed in committee earlier than the state legislature adjourned in June.
Of their evaluation, Verilife counts 14.1 dispensaries in Colorado for each 100,000 folks or the best per capita price of the states the place hashish is totally legalized. Colorado and Washington have been each the primary states to legalize medical hashish in 2012.
As demand for hashish surges nationwide this decade, the market continues to be aggressive in Washington. The state additionally noticed 190 dispensaries shut down for good statewide, in accordance with WSLCB information. One other two retail institutions are closed quickly. Underneath federal prohibition, hashish entrepreneurs are ineligible for defense underneath chapter legal guidelines, financial institution loans and different advantages accessible in different industries.
Washington’s hashish business continues to make up a major slice of state revenue. This yr, economists estimate it performed an element in bringing the state’s stability sheets within the black.
The hashish business was invited to take part in Washington’s vaccine rollout via the state’s “joint for jabs” program. It allowed 500 hashish retailers to arrange COVID-19 vaccination clinics with free hashish joints for sufferers as an incentive. Nonetheless, most opted out for lack of house and a scarcity of curiosity from well being care suppliers who have been unwilling to danger federal funding by partnering with an business that continues to be unlawful on the federal stage.