By Sue Vorenberg
Cannabis Daily Record
The steady month by month growth of Washington state’s recreational cannabis sales may come to an end in October.
The state has seen a steady uptick each month since sales began in July, 2014. But with five days to go in October and lagging sales in Southwest Washington after the launch of early start recreational sales in neighboring Oregon – that trend seems unlikely to continue.
In fiscal 2015, monthly sales grew from $47.6 million in July to $53.5 million in August to $59.5 million in September. As of October 26, the state Liquor and Cannabis Board had reported $50.1 million in monthly sales.
Dispensaries in Southwest Washington, across the border from Portland, Oregon, reported dips in foot traffic of 15 to 20 percent since the October launch.
Sales in Washington are directly affected by Oregon legalization as two of the three largest recreational pot shops in Washington are located in Vancouver (Main Street Marijuana and New Vansterdam), right across the Columbia River from Portland.
Stores in Southwest Washington have been heavily dependant on Portland customers, who have been opting to buy their cannabis in Oregon rather than crossing the border.
Vancouver dispensaries still have an edge over Portland for the next year or so – as Oregon’s early start program only allows recreational sales of marijuana flower. Southwest Washington stores are still drawing Portland customers who want vapes, edibles, concentrates and other items that won’t be allowed in Oregon until the state’s full recreational system is implemented sometime in late 2016.
But, unless Washington stores have a very good sales week for the Halloween holiday, it looks like the steadily increasing sales trend will come to an end in October.
That said, sales across the rest of Washington continue to increase – so the dip from the launch of Oregon sales may be more of a hiccup as markets adjust rather than the start of a downward trend.
October’s final sales figures should come out on November 3 at the Liquor and Cannabis Board’s website here: http://www.liq.wa.gov/records/frequently-requested-lists . It will be interesting to see how individual stores, as well as the overall Washington industry, fares through the month.