Washington Residents Smoke Way More Weed Than Officials Thought

A new report highlights the difficulty of predicting supply and demand for a legal weed market

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Knowing how much marijuana people consume is now a very important statistic for officials in Washington and Colorado. That number can help them make sound decisions about how to regulate the supply side of the country’s first recreational marijuana markets. And on Wednesday a non-profit think tank released a report showing that Washington residents consume far more weed than the state initially thought.

In 2012, the Washington Office of Financial Management estimated that residents were consuming about 85 metric tons of marijuana. The RAND Corporation now estimates that the number is closer to 175 metric tons. That’s very roughly the difference between about 25 and 50 joints per resident each year. “You need to have a good idea about consumption to make decisions about licensing, how many distributors to allow, how many retail shops,” says Beau Kilmer, the lead researcher on the project. “And it’s important to have this information now, because people will want to know what the world looked like before the stores opened up.”

The Washington State Liquor Control Board is the body responsible for the nuts and bolts of implementing the new law. RAND researched these numbers at their behest and gave them preliminary findings months before the Board finalized rules like limiting the growing canopy, the total amount of square footage in the state that can be used for cultivating cannabis. So the disparity between RAND’s findings and the bureaucrats’ working estimate isn’t as vast as it sounds. Still, Brian Smith, a spokesman for the Board, says that any number is an educated guess at best. “No one knows what this recreational market is going to look like,” he says. “What we’ve been trying to do is establish a legal market where one exists nowhere else in the world. So you base it on the best data you have available to you.”

Getting accurate numbers about the use of illegal drugs isn’t easy. Surveys are often based on self-reports, and people often don’t want to fess up or misreport the amount they use. Many studies on marijuana, Kilmer says, have also concentrated on numbers of users and how often they use, without getting details about how much they use or how potent the product is—which could be the relative difference between a glass of wine and a night of binge drinking. In their study, the RAND analysts took data from previous surveys about drug usage circa 2011, combined them with more recent metrics and augmented that with their own web-based survey of more than 2,700 residents in Washington state. To get information about metrics like the amount of cannabis consumption, they provided photographs of weed piled next to credit cards and coins. Kilmer says their research is just the “tip of the iceberg.”

On Friday, Washington will close its window for accepting business license applications from residents who want to grow, process or sell marijuana. As of Dec. 17, the state had received 1,117 applications for producing, 817 for processing and 513 for selling. While the state placed a limit on the amount of land that can be used to grow marijuana—at 2 million square feet, the size of about 35 football fields—they did not place upper limits on the number of producers and processors who can share that total. Officials did cap retail shops at 334, which means the Board will likely have to institute a lottery for some of the spots.

The RAND survey has a big margin of error, ranging from about 135 metric tons to 225. If it turns out that the state has underestimated demand, that could make for unhappy shoppers and a run on stores. If they’ve overestimated demand, that could lead to lower prices, which may lure marijuana users from other states where weed is still a black market drug. And officials want their market to be competitive without spilling over into other jurisdictions.

Colorado is going to being blazing part of the recreational-marijuana trail before Washington does. Smith says the state plans to start issuing licenses to producers and processors in the next few months, in time for retail spots to open in the spring. Colorado, meanwhile, is in the midst of what Denver City Councilman Charlie Brown calls “the December to remember,” the final days before pot goes on sale Jan. 1. Brown says that because of licensing delays, a mere 10 shops will likely be open when potentially thousands of toking tourists descend on the town New Year’s Day.

His sentiment about so-called “Green Wednesday” sums up the position of many officials in both Colorado and Washington “Nobody knows what’s going to happen. We’re the pioneers here,” he says. “It’s been a grind, and it’s not over. We’re going to ride herd on this industry and on these regulations. If we don’t work, we’re going to change them. And there will be gaps.” Smith says Washington regulators also built their system to have “flexibility,” so they can make changes after the theoretical market comes to life in 2014.

270 comments
bruce.w.ryan
bruce.w.ryan

The REPEAL of PROHIBITION 2.0 is going to be very "interesting". Our global civilization has changed and (dare I say it) 'evolved' during the past century. My prediction is simple: the impact of 'legal' cannabis reaches into several segments of modern society. When the clear majority of citizens recognize the outrageous damages to our brothers & sisters as a result of the "War on Drugs"... you KNOW that the tides have changed. What?, CNN poll reporting 86% want legalization - the other 14% must be getting their careers, salary, profits or 'perks' PAID for by private prison corporations, the DEA or some government agency. ALL through the corruption engendered by "prohibition" in our "modern" civilization.

Wait, I'm starting to rant.


shapiro.len
shapiro.len

another big step in humanity's steady decline and fall. as artificial intelligence (AI) explodes into our reality, we are determined to finish ourselves off in a stupor of drugs, depression,insanity, poverty and crime,war and genocide, racial and religious hatreds,the demise of science in the USA due to corrupt politicians and intellectual backwardness.  Humanity may create an intelligence so powerful and complex,it will obliterate our world as it is. we will fade away and become a shadow,a will o' the wisp. we just don't get it and we just can't hack it. so be it. read Matt Miller's column on AI.

mary.waterton
mary.waterton

Marijuana has been linked to lower IQ and schizophrenia:

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270262.php

It goes a long way toward explaining the chronic low achievement test scores and the epidemic of murder-suicides among the youth, not to mention the TRILLION dollar deficits and loss of American market share to the Asians by the baby boomers.

ChikuMisra
ChikuMisra

You know, my general attitude is I really don't care how others live or what they do. Thing is, buncha dumb druggies here and elsewhere are confused and think society owes them some nice shiny facility to get their drugs.

Y'all can continue to go to your back alleys and bad neighborhoods and nightclubs and whatever to get that stuff. Society has got no obligation to set up some nice store for you. We just don't, period. There are better things to put govt money into.

Next time you smoke or snort or inject your drug, objectively ask yourself what's the point. Now, I could totally understand if it gave you some incredible weeklong euphoria. But from everything I have read, the effects last hours, and the life of a druggie is that of chasing that initial euphoria that never returns. Kinda like somebody starting gambling, winning big, losing it all back and then losing their shirts. It's all just the mind asserting ownership over its master, or trying to. I understand peoples need to escape this sometimes ugly world. Been there myself. But the media does a disservice pretending like illegal drugs are no big deal.i mean, they never did a damn thing for anybody and tens of thousands are in cemeteries because of them, whether directly or from a car accident or other byproduct of using.

Y'all druggies do what u want. Frankly, nobody really cares if you wanna get high. Have at it and have fun. Just don't expect society to bend over backwards to ensure you obtain that pointless trash with as little inconvenience as possible. You wanna live that life, go hang out with your buds in the back alleys. Society and govt is merely trying to constrain or limit the druggies to the back alleys and I'm totally on board with that as is most of the nation.

Sure, for some reason the media glorifies drugs and gays and a bunch of other silliness we all sick of, like the Middle East. That doesn't mean you gotta turn off your noggin and go along wit em.

Spencer60
Spencer60

Why does the government have to 'regulate' anything here? If they are going to legalize it, just let liquor stores sell it. They already have the 'infrastructure' in place to sell recreational drugs.


MichaelNesbitt
MichaelNesbitt

Stop all the government hand outs and most of the pot smoking will go away

BrianJackson
BrianJackson

These people interviewed sound way stressed.  I suggest they light up and chill out.

JohnThomas
JohnThomas

>>>"If they’ve overestimated demand, that could lead to lower prices, which may lure marijuana users from other states where weed is still a black market drug."


When did lower prices become the boogeyman?   Marijuana consumers are going to come to free states to check out the liberty.  What's wrong with that?  That they'll go home and want freedom there also?

After the dust settles on re-legalization, average quality marijuana will sell for around $50 an ounce - plus taxes.

Let loose of the fictional black-market gold mines.  -  It's just a plant.

Duncan_20903
Duncan_20903

I've got an idea! Let's play "Ask the Prohibitionist!"


Q) Mr. Prohibitionist, Mr. Prohibitionist, how many prohibitionists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A) None. Changing the bulb would be surrender. With enough effort and borrowed money we can make the old one work the way it’s supposed to.

ltjx86
ltjx86

Here's an idea that should allow the would-be marijuana market regulators in Washington and Colorado to relax and take it easy:  Just let the free market decide how many growers, retailers, etc will be needed to satisfy actual demand for the product. This is exactly how most products in our society are handled.  Do we depend upon government officials to decide how many bars of bath soap to produce, how many white cotton t-shirts will be needed, how many pears farmers should grow, or how many gallons of gasoline US drivers will be needing?  No, of course we don't.  And we don't normally need to worry about the millions of other questions like these that could be asked each year.  Why not?  Because the natural functioning of free markets and flexible prices has been proven over many decades to be the best and most efficient method of supplying timely and sufficient quantities of the ever changing products that American consumers demand.


There are some products which (typically for political reasons) the government insists upon managing tightly.  One example is prescription drugs, especially so-called "controlled drugs".   As a result, this is an area of our economy which constantly seems to make headlines about outrageously high prices, in an odd combination with reports of severe supply shortages.  These are due to overly zealous government restrictions (or quotas) on quantities manufactured, combined with federal drug control guidelines advocating that only tiny quantities of certain medicines be available for sale at retail pharmacies.


This sort of government "help" is exactly what is NOT needed for new legal marijuana markets to flourish.

jls1950
jls1950

Actually, this is VERY encouraging: it means that there is just that much more revenue stream which will NOT be going to Latin American cartels and domestic criminal organizations and growers. If other states follow suit, we could actually bankrupt the Mexican drug gangs and stop "gun walking" and gang violence on both sides of the border like "Fast and Furious" never did!

jholmes0716
jholmes0716

Even though weed is being legalized in some places, if your employer tests for drugs, you're screwed.  It will take at least another 10?maybe years for it to become as accepted as alcohol.  The thing is - alcohol leaves your system fairly quickly.  And nobody screens for it.  There are ways around this, but I'm just sayin' - we're emergent with this.  The movement is in its infancy.  By the time it's as accepted as alcohol I'll be way too old to care anymore.  Sigh.

CrossWinds
CrossWinds

Interestingly, the word "sorcery" in the original language is the word "pharmacia". It's where we get our word "drug" from.

The Greek word "pharmakia" literally means "drugs", and appears five times in the New Testament: in Gal 5:20, Rev 9:21, 18:23, 21:8, and 22:15.

"Pharmakia" is translated into our English Bible as either "witchcraft" or "sorceries". We also get our English word "pharmacy" from the Greek word "pharmakia".

It appears God was foretelling rampant, worldwide drug use in the last days, and equating it with communion with evil spirits........


Revelation 9:21........... And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.

OldHippie
OldHippie

@shapiro.len If there's any "stupor" involved in society, it's caused by mind-numbing things like reality TV, celebrity worship, and mass consumption of alcohol, which REALLY dumbs and numbs you down. In contrast, cannabis helps expand your mind and thinking. The more people who learn that, the better for the world at large.

NickDaSilva
NickDaSilva

Wow, so insightful. You must have been the screen writer for Terminator or the Matrix

NickDaSilva
NickDaSilva

Wow, a shotty medical journal article with only ONE reference. .......so insightful

NickDaSilva
NickDaSilva

I bet you love big pharma and would gladly accept any drug prescribed by your doctor

shapiro.len
shapiro.len

@ChikuMisra you make a good case. yet, it has to come from within each person. americans are lost in too many ways. this is just one of them.it's the beginning of the end. ebb and flow,tide comes in and tide goes out. we are on the way out.

JohnThomas
JohnThomas

@ChikuMisra - So why do you support forcing people to choose the more harmful recreational drug - alcohol?

drgnslyr221
drgnslyr221

@ChikuMisraYou're not even worth responding to.

ReiMiraa
ReiMiraa

@Spencer60 we also eliminated most liquor stores here. now we can get alcohol at walmart and costco...  most of the remaining liquor stores are closing because they can't meet the fees and taxes to stay open.

michaelmurdock44
michaelmurdock44

@Spencer60 Believe me I fully understand your point here, however In order for it to be taxed it must fall under some sort of regulation. If it is going to be legally sold in America it must be taxed... that is just how we have set up our commercial infrastructure. 

michaelmurdock44
michaelmurdock44

@MichaelNesbitt 


Marijuana has been around long before the government you are talking about even existed and thinking that stopping a few handouts of any kind will make marijuana go away is a very unrealistic view...a view that makes me think you may be on something...but not pot that for sure!

P1007
P1007

@MichaelNesbitt Are you suggesting that the majority of recreational smokers are dependent on government handouts? If so, allow me to tell you just how wrong you are.

acharles
acharles

@JohnThomasThere is no reason for average quality cannabis to sell for more than $20 to $40 per *pound*, in a fair market.

Tommy34684
Tommy34684

@ltjx86Government monitors and controls liquor, beer and wine licenses do they not?  Why not this license? Government inspects distilleries, wineries etc. and approves the facilities prior to usage do they not? yada yada. I guess government has the right and power to stick its nose in this as well to ensure the users of the end product get what they purchased!

inmemoryofER
inmemoryofER

@ltjx86 Yes but this would definitely need to be met with reasonable regulation if consumers don't want to see the market turn into what the cigarette market became with the use of addictive additives and powerful lobbies representing the financial interests of the companies over the people.

EnforcedFreedom
EnforcedFreedom

@jholmes0716 the movement may not be nearing completion, but it certainly is not in its infancy. Based on where the movement was 10 years ago, I'm ecstatic with the progress we have made. 

jls1950
jls1950

@CrossWinds  This is actually true, however, one must understand that "pharmakia" referred to the creation of "potions" by mixing and concentrating psychoactive plant sources to enhance their effect (using alcohol as an extraction agent, for example) and for the purpose of either (a) inducing a false "spiritual" experience, or (b) "enchanting" another so to bend their will. In other words, false religion (idolatry) and e.g. "date rape". 

 

Cannabis leaf, however falls under the dual provisions of Gen 1:29 and Rom 11:29:

"And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.'

"For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance."

The reason that alcohol Prohibition failed so miserably (by some accounts, per-capita consumption of alcohol actually increased tenfold) was that it also violated the clear provisions of God's Word and promises in Proverbs 31 and other passages: wine and beer ("strong drink") are protected "gifts" to be used in certain responsible manner, and blanket prohibitions are a mockery of God's Word and so bring a curse. (BTW, distilled spirits could be considered "pharamakia".) 

It is a violation of scripture to prohibit all use of cannabis, and the act of doing so (and forcing other nations to do so as well) has brought a "curse" of hard drug use and related violence upon our nation and indeed the world. 

EnforcedFreedom
EnforcedFreedom

@CrossWinds  Nope, way off. First of all, the word "drug" comes from the Old French word "droge", which meant "supply" or "stock" (as a noun). That word likely developed from similar words in Middle Low German and/or Middle Dutch. No relation, at all, to the Greek word "pharmakia", which in Biblical Greek actually meant a variety of things, mainly "use of drugs, medicines, potions, or spells; poisoning, witchcraft; remedy, cure." In this context, the word was used to essentially refer to the miraculousness of the cure produced by drugs, NOT its supposed intoxication effect. There is no where in the Bible that advocates against weed or any other drug if used responsibility. Try again and stop making God look bad. 

jholmes0716
jholmes0716

@CrossWinds Did you notice in your Rev 9:21 quote that theft is on the same level as murder?  Have you ever stolen time from your employer? 

PhillyCannabis
PhillyCannabis

@CrossWinds  your god is a superstition. It makes you feel better and reassures you to keep believing in this myth. Humans didn't understand the world around them so when earthquakes, volcanos, plague, drought and disease happened people thought it was a god. But really religion is just creepy old men that want to sleep with teenager girls(or boys).


Cannabis evolved along with humans. Cannabis and humans are intertwined. That is why we have receptors in our brain that perfectly accept THC molecule. 


We have a finite life cycle. Enjoy it.


Throw out your bible. Eat, drink, play in the sun, make love, laugh and be creative. Everything else is just nonsense. 

jholmes0716
jholmes0716

@CrossWinds Drugs (Pharmakeia): Aspirin, Tylenol, Nexium, Zoloft.  Do I need to go on?  Does alcohol fall under the pharmakeia umbrella?  Caffeine, nicotine? How do you use Scripture to support and denounce which drug?  Was cannabis illegal 2,000 years ago?  How about 6,000 years ago?  Sigh.

shapiro.len
shapiro.len

@OldHippie @shapiro.len


 since you call yourself Old Hippie,you must be old and you must be a hippie. the word "hippie" has little meaning anymore.It just connects with down and out, a by-gone time when it was "cool" to be a "drop-out."  Its not cool anymore and neither is smoking weed. People do it now because they cannot cope with the realities and responsibilities of their lives.


Americans are losing the competition in science,education,manufacturing and middle class values. Americans who are not "old" and don't look like you, are chosing to FAIL in the global economy, and people like you are making it easier for them. If you believe drugs "expand" your mind, that is your choice.


But when you go public and encourage everyone to follow your lead into nowhere and nothing, to jump down the rabbit hole and call it a step forward,that is another matter.  Millions of americans will lose everything they have,because other populations in far better educated places than America, are NOT drowning in drugs,alcohol,gun violence, and wars of mass stupidity.


rather, they are advancing rapidly in REAL mind expanding and thinking, and the world at large is getting better for them and WORSE for us.

If you think that is NOT TRUE, your mind has shrunk down, not expanded. you had your chance- let them have their chance.

stephenkdaniel
stephenkdaniel

@shapiro.len @ChikuMisra shapiro you are clearly lost. You might like a country like Saudi Arabia or China where people with your ideology can flourish. This is America son, the land of the free. Not a police state where people are beaten and murdered for using a medicinal herb anymore. The war on marijuana is over. The majority rule. the minority lost and you lost also apparently. Maybe do some research and educate yourself on this matter before opening your pie hole.

ChikuMisra
ChikuMisra

Yeah, cuz we all know ignorance is normally hilarious.

drgnslyr221
drgnslyr221

@P1007@MichaelNesbittReefer madness has never offered logical or provable arguments. Hopefully one day the false beliefs about smokers will go away.

JohnThomas
JohnThomas

@acharles@JohnThomas - Perhaps if it were just cut off the field and bagged, it would cost that.   The closest agricultural product to marijuana is fine tobacco found in tobacco shops.  It's reasonable to expect marijuana to land a little higher, since all of the plant is not used - just the flowering buds. 


That's my best estimate.  I hope you're right.  8^)

drgnslyr221
drgnslyr221

@acharles@JohnThomas$20-40 a pound?! LOL, You have to be kidding, right?
 That wouldn't be worth anyone's time.

ltjx86
ltjx86

@tkulaga @ltjx86 Such government involvement in alcohol is often to ensure the full collection of all the rather large taxes and fees imposed in that market.  And extensive federal and state consumer laws, plus our English common law traditions, already protect US buyers against fraud in the marketplace.

ltjx86
ltjx86

@inmemoryofER Actually the cigarette market was never all that much regulated by the US government until very recently, except for some limitations on advertising in the USA.  You may recall that there was a long-fought battle over whether or not the tobacco companies even had to reveal the ingredients in their  cigarette brands.  And even in very recent years, the US Dept of Agriculture has continued to subsidize ads for American cigarettes in certain 3rd world markets to encourage US exports.  Thailand was a recent example where the US government put great pressure on the Thai government to allow nearly unrestricted imports of American cigarettes and advertising into that nation.  Such policies are claimed to promote tobacco as a major American farm crop.


Also, tobacco doesn't really require any additives to be highly addictive.  While marijuana is known NOT to be physically addictive in the same way as tobacco and opiates (there are no significant withdrawal symptoms when quitting marijuana).  And marijuana has never been proven to have caused a single human death by itself - the same can be said of very few other drugs, or even foods.


And good luck limiting the power of major financial interests.  Some argue that it is partly the interests of the powerful alcoholic drinks industry that has kept their potential competitor, marijuana, illegal for so many years - as it still remains illegal today in most US states and at the federal level.  


The fact remains that most of the millions of US consumer products do just fine with little or no government regulation.  Let the buyers rule the market.

EnforcedFreedom
EnforcedFreedom

@jholmes0716 @CrossWinds The quote is also referring to people who are unrepentant for sins committed, I'm not sure that the passage "equates" the two as equal but merely is a list of examples. Dont get me wrong though, the OP is a fool. 

ssgabrial
ssgabrial

@PhillyCannabis Intelligent humans understand a lot about earthquakes, volcanoes, drought, disease etc...  And many years later, molecular biology...  and we call it science!  But really ignorance is dumb phux posting on the internet that think that cannabis intertwining with receptors in our brain  explains everything.  You have a finite life cycle and juvenile intellect...  Enjoy it!!!

AmandaMillard
AmandaMillard

@PhillyCannabisYou did forget one thing, though. Religion is also used to control the masses. To control critical thinking processes, to make behaviors almost, if not, automatic. Always has been, it's why church heads try to control Kings, Queens, and Presidents as much as possible.

ISpeakTheTruth
ISpeakTheTruth

@PhillyCannabisStop bothering people about their beliefs idiot. Who cares what other people believe? Stop attacking people and believe what you want.

AtheistLoveChristmas
AtheistLoveChristmas

The number of Christians I personally know on anti depressants (and more) would astound you.

keb
keb

@jholmes0716 @CrossWinds  What original language would that be ?  So now marijuana is an evil spirit .  Tweek your bible to say what you want , great example .

ssgabrial
ssgabrial

@AmandaMillard @PhillyCannabis Religion controls the weak.  Corporations control the rest.

PhillyCannabis
PhillyCannabis

@ISpeakTheTruth @PhillyCannabis  


"I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."


-Stephen F Roberts


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