Apples may be the largest cash crop in Washington, but legal cannabis is gaining traction.
According to a new estimate by Leafly, a Seattle-based cannabis marketplace and information site, Washington-based growers earned $ 653 million in wholesale revenue from the sale of £ 561,000 of legal marijuana in 2020.
Cannabis is thus the fourth most valuable legal crop in Washington after apples ($ 2.1 billion), wheat ($ 949 million) and potatoes ($ 753 million), but ahead of cherries ($ 562 million) and hay ( $ 501 million), according to USDA figures.
That’s also enough to put Washington the fourth-largest wholesaler of legal cannabis out of 11 states with legal recreational sales, which totaled $ 6.2 billion in wholesale sales last year, according to Leafly. California leads the US with $ 1.7 billion, followed by Colorado ($ 1 billion) and Michigan ($ 736 million).
Washington, the first state to legalize the sale of recreational cannabis in 2012, received its first commercial crop in 2014. There are currently 1,070 licensed growers or growers / processors in the state, according to the state’s Alcohol and Cannabis Board.
Leafly released wholesale estimates for Washington and other states in part because legal cannabis still hasn’t received the recognition that other crops are gaining as a source of economic value.
“Cannabis is now the 4th most valuable crop in Washington,” said Leafly editor Bruce Barcott. “But the agribusiness community in Washington and government agencies continue to refuse to recognize cannabis farmers as farmers.”
Indeed, because cannabis is not federal legal, it is not in the USDA data that Washington and other states use in their own annual agricultural product rankings, state and federal agriculture officials said.
The lack of federal status also means that cannabis farmers in Washington do not receive the same benefits and protections as most other farmers.
They are not covered by the Washington Household Law Act, which protects farmers from lawsuits from neighbors. They also cannot receive state property and property tax rebates that farmers receive on arable land and are not eligible for federal farmer assistance programs, state officials said.
According to Barcott, states usually publish data on retail sales and taxes, but there is little publicly available about the income that cannabis generates for farmers.
To calculate Washington’s wholesales, Leafly calculated that every dollar of retail sales brings 47 cents in wholesales, Barcott said. According to calculations from LCB data, Washington reported about $ 1.4 billion in retail cannabis sales in 2020.
Leafly only estimated wholesale revenues for 2020. But if you apply Leafly’s percentage to previous years in Washington, DC, it can be assumed that cannabis wholesale revenues have grown from about $ 68 million in 2015 to about $ 454.5 million in 2018 and $ 653 million in 2020.
Meanwhile, the illegal cannabis industry in Washington has shrunk significantly under pressure from legal marijuana, which was cheaper than its illegal counterpart, shortly after the state-owned industry launched, LCB officials said.
legal weed, LCB officials said.
The agency has no accurate estimates of how many illegal weeds are still being grown in Washington, but admits some remain. “Today we mainly see only large-scale [illegal] preparing to be diverted out of state to states that have not been legalized, ”said LCB spokesman Brian Smith.
While cannabis is not listed as an agricultural commodity by state and federal agencies, Leafly’s efforts have won praise from Christopher Merz, USDA Regional Director for the Northwest, who called it “a fair attempt at understanding where this industry is among other agricultural cultures of the United States. “