While the COVID-19 pandemic has played havoc with the Washington economy and many of its industries, it has boosted at least one: the state’s legal marijuana operations.
Marijuana sales at state-licensed stores jumped in March as the state went into its “Stay Safe” restrictions with workers in nonessential jobs told to stay home and many stores and entertainment venues closed, data from the state Liquor and Cannabis Board show.
Compared to February, sales and the state’s corresponding tax revenues rose about 28% in March, according to figures presented in a recent legislative committee work session on marijuana. They stayed at near-record levels through July, the most recent month for which the state has records, when nearly $130 million in legal marijuana sales were reported.
That was 42% higher than in July 2019.
David Morgan, co-owner of Lucky Leaf in downtown Spokane, said marijuana sales typically pick up in warmer weather, but they definitely noticed “a pretty big spike” in March that is continuing into September.
While legal marijuana sales have risen steadily each year since state-licensed stores opened in 2015, the jump this spring was larger than that trend. Morgan noticed a spike when local residents received their $1,200 stimulus payments and a drop when the federal government’s additional $600 in pandemic unemployment benefits ended. [Read more at The Spokesman-Review]