Apples may be Washington’s biggest source of income, but legal cannabis is gaining ground.
According to a new estimate from Leafly, a Seattle-based cannabis marketplace and information site, Washington growers made $ 653 million in wholesale revenues from 561,000 pounds of legal weed in 2020.
That makes cannabis Washington’s fourth most valuable legal crop, after apples ($ 2.1 billion), wheat ($ 949 million) and potatoes ($ 753 million), but ahead of cherries ($ 562 million) and hay ($ 501 million). U.S. Department of Agriculture.
It is also enough to place Washington as the fourth largest producer of legal cannabis among the 11 states with legal recreational sales by wholesale revenue, which, according to Leafly, totaled $ 6.2 billion in wholesale revenue last year. California leads the US with $ 1.7 billion, followed by Colorado ($ 1 billion) and Michigan ($ 736 million).
Washington, the first state to legalize recreational cannabis sales in 2012, had its first commercial harvest in 2014. The state currently has 1,070 licensed producers or producers / processors, according to the state Liquor and Cannabis Board.
Leafly released the wholesale estimates for Washington and other states in part because legal cannabis still lacks the recognition that other agricultural crops receive as a source of economic value.
“Cannabis is now Washington’s fourth most important agricultural crop,” said Bruce Barcott, editor of Leafly. “But Washington’s Ag community and state Ag agencies still refuse to recognize cannabis farmers as farmers.”
Because cannabis isn’t legal at the federal level, it’s not included in the USDA data that Washington and other states use in their own annual agricultural production rankings, state and federal agricultural officials said.
The lack of federal status also means that Washington cannabis farmers do not receive the same benefits and safeguards as most other farmers.
You are excluded from the protection of Washington’s right to farm, which protects farmers from onerous lawsuits from neighbors. They also can’t get the state property and inheritance tax breaks farmers get for arable land and are not eligible for state farm support programs, state officials say.
States typically publish data on retail sales and taxes, but little public information is available on the revenue cannabis brings to farmers, Barcott said.
To compute Washington’s wholesale numbers, Leafly estimated that every dollar in retail sales generated 47 cents in wholesale sales, Barcott said. In 2020, Washington reported around $ 1.4 billion in retail cannabis sales, based on calculations from LCB data.
Leafly only estimated wholesale revenue for 2020. However, applying Leafly’s percentage to previous years in Washington suggests that wholesale cannabis revenue increased from around $ 68 million in 2015 to about $ 454.5 million a year 2018 and to $ 653 million in 2020.
Washington’s illegal cannabis industry has shrunk significantly under pressure from legal weed, which was cheaper than its illegal counterpart shortly after the state industry started up, LCB officials said.
legal weed, LCB officials said.
The agency doesn’t have firm estimates of how much illegal weed is still being grown in Washington, but acknowledges that some of it is left. âToday we mostly only see large areas [illegal] Operations that are prepared to divert from a state to states that are not legalized, “said LCB spokesman Brian Smith.
Although state and federal agencies do not classify cannabis as an agricultural good, Leafly’s efforts received a nod from Christopher Mertz, the USDA’s Northwest Regional Director. â