- The Washington Times - Friday, July 8, 2016

Dispensaries in Washington state have sold more than $1 billion worth of recreational marijuana since weed was legalized in 2014, a Seattle newspaper reported.

Pot shops have sold over $1 billion worth of non-medicinal marijuana since July 2014, in turn generating more than $250 million for Washington state through excise taxes, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported Friday.

Passage of Initiative 502 removed prohibitions against producing, processing and selling marijuana products to adults over the age of 21 in Washington state effective July 2014. A website containing statistics concerning the legislation places the amount of recreational pot sold since the law took hold at slightly less than Seattle PI’s figure: $979,937,722.

According to both reports, June was the lucrative month for recreational marijuana sales in Washington since passage of Initiative 502. Roughly $86.7 million in sales was reported, yielding over $20 million in taxes for the state, nearly double the amount generated in June 2015.

With other states considering similar measures in the wake of Washington’s decision to legalize marijuana, the latest reports indicates the legal weed business shows no sign of losing its status as a multibillion-dollar industry. In Colorado, where voters agreed to legalize recreational marijuana in the same November 2012 election as those in Washington, the Denver Post reported this week that the domestic marijuana industry is currently worth about $7.2 billion.

As it currently stands, however, only a few states within the U.S. have implemented rules sanctioning the buying and selling of recreational weed. In addition to Washington and Colorado, residents of Oregon, Alaska and D.C. have voted in favor of recreational marijuana. In November, measures calling for legalization may appear on ballots in Nevada, Maine, California, Arizona and Massachusetts.

Pending the results of those measures, industry insiders expect an ever bigger explosion for the bud business.

“Certain investors are trying to get into the market ahead of the initiatives in November and position themselves where they can as participants for when broader legalization occurs,” Evan Eneman, managing director at Los-Angeles based venture capital firm Verde Capital told the Post.

“If we do well in November, there will be a massive increase in the amount of investment, the quality of the teams and the sophistication of the business models going forward,” added Troy Dayton, chief executive officer of Oakland’s Arcview Group firm. “It’s not every day a multibillion-dollar industry gets started.”

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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