Benton County cannabis sales top $34 million

Cannabis sales in Benton County reached more than $34 million in fiscal year 2020.

That’s up nearly 43% over fiscal year 2019, when sales reached nearly $24 million.

Statewide, sales increased nearly 21% to $1.3 billion, up from about $1 billion. Benton County’s sales made up about 3% of the statewide total.

King County boasted the highest sales at $340 million.

The data released by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board covers July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020.

Jim MacRae, owner of Seattle-based cannabis industry data company Straight Line Analytics, told the Spokane Journal of Business that he believes many cannabis users are seeking comfort in the drug. 

“I figure this is people dealing with a rough time,” he said. “It would appear that people are availing themselves of intoxicants a great deal more than they used to be.”

MacRae speculated that the increase in usage is most likely due to existing users consuming larger quantities. He said it’s likely that some people who were using cannabis after the end of the workday prior to the pandemic are now working remotely and are using more frequently throughout the day.

“If somebody wants to get up in the morning and wake and bake, and then go to work for the day from their home office, they can now do that,” he said.

Washington state collected a total of $395.5 million in legal marijuana income and license fees in fiscal year 2019, all but $5.2 million of it from the state’s marijuana excise, or sales, tax. 

The 2019 report, the most recent available, also shows that the marijuana revenues were $172 million more than that of liquor, and that the marijuana tax income to the state for fiscal 2019 of $395.5 million grew by slightly more than $28 million from the prior fiscal year.

Revenues collected by the state Liquor and Cannabis Board come from legal cannabis taxes, license fees, and penalties are distributed as follow, according to the 2019 report: General fund, $116.5 million; basic health, $188.3 million; cities, counties,
$15 million; education, prevention, $9.5 million; research, $0.4 million; and other, $49.2 million.

Benton County collected $283,593 in distributions in fiscal year 2020 and $267,077 in fiscal year 2019, according to data from the state Liquor and Cannabis Board.

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