By Tim Gruver / The Center Square
COVID-19 couldn’t stop Washington’s cannabis industry from growing in 2020, but state data shows the rate of newcomers to the market lags behind other states.
Washington is one of 17 states to legalize cannabis, both medically and recreationally. Since 2016, all cannabis licensing is regulated and enforced by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB), limiting the number of cannabis licensees in the state.
Every year, the agency votes to lift the cap on grower and dispensary licenses. In 2020, that number fell behind other cannabis markets.
WSLCB records obtained by The Center Square show the agency issued 70 new retail permits statewide, with 41 pending by the end of the year. That bumps the number of dispensaries in Washington to 1,005 or about 6.2 per 100,000 people. It also marks a 33% increase from the 334 dispensaries in 2015 when the WSLCB first began accepting applications.
Washington’s per-capita rate is the second-lowest among the states to legalize cannabis across the board, behind California, which boasts a per capita rate of 1.6 dispensaries per 100,000 people.
Based on data from cannabis industry tracker Verilife, Oregon leads the nation in dispensaries per capita.