Marijuana Consumption in Washington State Twice as Large as Previously Estimated
Dec 18, 2013
The 2012 passage of Initiative 502 in Washington state removed the prohibition on the production, distribution, and possession of marijuana for nonmedical purposes and required the state to regulate and tax a new marijuana industry. This report uses data from multiple sources to estimate the total weight of marijuana consumed in the state in 2013 to provide decisionmakers with baseline information about the size of the state's market.
Measuring Washington State's Marijuana Market in the Last Year Before Legalized Commercial Sales
Does not include Appendixes A, B, and C.
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In 2012, Washington state voters passed Initiative 502 (I-502), which removed the prohibition on the production, distribution, and possession of marijuana for nonmedical purposes and required the state to regulate and tax a new marijuana industry. Legalization of possession went into effect almost immediately, but the revolutionary aspect of the law — allowing businesses to openly produce and distribute commercial-scale quantities for nonmedical use — is expected to be fully implemented in 2014.
Decisionmakers in Washington need baseline information about the amount of marijuana that is currently consumed in the state for many reasons. For example, it is important for making informed decisions about the number of licenses to distribute, to accurately project tax revenues, and to provide a foundation for evaluations of I-502. This report estimates the total weight of marijuana consumed in Washington in 2013 using data from existing household surveys as well as information from a new web-based consumption survey. Although the principal motivation for the study was estimating the size of the market, the report also describes various characteristics of the market, including traits of marijuana users in Washington and how they obtain marijuana.
While the Washington Office of Financial Management projected that 85 metric tons (MT) of marijuana would be consumed in the state in 2013, this report suggests that estimate is probably too low, perhaps by a factor of two. There is inevitable uncertainty surrounding estimates of illegal and quasi-illegal activities, so it is better to think in terms of a range of possible sizes, rather than a point estimate. Analyses suggest a range of 135–225 MT, which might loosely be thought of as a 90-percent confidence interval, with a median estimate close to 175 MT.
Size of the Marijuana Market in Washington in 2013
Distribution of Past-Month Marijuana Users and Amount Consumed Across Counties
Characteristics of Washington's Marijuana Users and Their Methods of Obtaining Marijuana
Cannabis Consumption Survey
Undercounting/Misreporting in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health
Insights About Marijuana Potency in Washington State
The research described in this report was sponsored by the Washington State Liquor Control Board/BOTEC Analysis Corporation and conducted in the RAND Drug Policy Research Center, part of RAND Health and RAND Justice, Infrastructure, and Environment.
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