More Washington residents get their cannabis from retail stores, rather than the illicit market, than any other state, according to an in-depth look at the state’s industry taken as part of the 10th anniversary of voters in the Evergreen State approving adult-use cannabis.
According to the “International Cannabis Policy Study: Washington State Report,” in 2021, 77% of survey participants from Washington state indicated they purchased from a legal (retail) source, compared to 44% for the United States overall and 57% for “U.S. legal” states. Survey participants further indicated that, on average, 90% of the products they purchased were from a retail store.
Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board director Rick Garza said the report is the first his agency has seen showing the degree to which Washington consumers are purchasing from legal sources, a question he often gets asked.
“It shows that the legal market we have is working largely as it should,” Garza said in a press release. “This is a testament to state voters who approved the initiative 10 years ago, and the fact that since our political leadership including the governor and legislators, the LCB and the industry have worked to follow the will of the voters and create a safe, well-regulated system.”
The 290-page report, funded by the LCB and produced by the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, also takes a deep dive into the market’s demographics, product categories and pricing. Among the insights is that Washington residents are more likely to have consumed cannabis (41%) than the national average (34%) and more likely than the average in medical (33%) and recreational states (36%).
But Washington consumers are smoking less flower than previous years, with increases seen in other categories like edibles, oils and beverages.
Washington’s legal market also has consistently better prices than its illegal market, according to the report. In 2021, the average legal cost per gram in Washington was $6.51 compared to $13.58 from illegal sources, though apparently one in three Washington consumers still believe the illegal market provides the best price. However, Most Washington consumers perceive legal cannabis to be higher quality and safer than the illegal market.
— Brian Beckley