SPOKANE, Wash. – The amount of money spent on legal marijuana sales in Spokane County last year was larger than the retail sales of wine, bread or milk.
That's according to sales numbers from the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board and a survey of household expenses conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Monthly sales of pot topped $5 million in Spokane County for the first time in March, which is on track to top receipts at area bookstores, museums and live music venues, according to figures released by the Washington Department of Revenue.
The Spokesman-Review reported that Spokane County marijuana retailers reported just over $43 million in sales in 2015, according to the state Liquor and Cannabis Board. That's an average of $225.64 per household.
By comparison, retail beer sales were $232.70 per Spokane County household last year, according to the Consumer Expenditure Survey administered by the Census Bureau. The average household spent $154.85 on wine, $155.37 on milk and $109.71 on bread in 2015.
Not all marijuana sold in Spokane County is consumed by county residents. State law allows the 17 state-licensed pot shops in the area to sell to anyone older than 21, and many customers drive over from Idaho and Montana.
Statewide, the Liquor and Cannabis Board tracks marijuana sales of $2.8 million a day.
"That seems pretty robust," said Brian Smith, spokesman for the Liquor and Cannabis Board.
For the third quarter of 2015, July through September, marijuana sales in Spokane County reached $12.4 million. That's slightly less than bookstore revenue of $12.6 million and is below the $15.8 million generated from arts, entertainment and recreation during that period, the most recent for which the comparative data are available.
Marijuana sales in the county rose in the first quarter of 2016 to $14.5 million.
Total revenues are likely to continue to increase, as medical marijuana dispensaries will come under Liquor and Cannabis Board control in July.
Because state laws were rewritten last year to enable tax revenue sharing with local governments based on sales, more revenue means more money for cities and counties. Spokane County can expect to receive $442,917 from the state in excise taxes on marijuana this year, according to the most recent Liquor and Cannabis Board estimates.