A look back on WA State Liquor and Cannabis Board’s 2017 Annual Report

As we enter into the month of July we have reached the end of Fiscal Year (FY) 2018, which in this case runs from July 1st through June 30th. During this time of year the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board will be preparing and publishing their annual report. In reverence to this we’re going to take a quick examination of last years report. It of course isn’t the sexiest of topics but due to our own close relationship with Cannabis here at Salt of the Streets, it is important to understand the statistics behind the industry, and there is no better source for such numbers than the state board. I will link to the report below, but I will cover a just a few of my favorite interesting stats as we go.

Lets first touch on what exactly the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board does. In their own words the mission statement of the board is to, “Promote public safety and trust through fair administration and enforcement of liquor, cannabis, tobacco, and vapor laws.” Loosely speaking they oversee/regulate and enforce the laws within the industries that buy/sell/produce products that contain Nicotine, Alcohol or THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol). They seek to provide consumer/industry safety through thoughtful regulation and administration.

What kind of information is in the report?

This is actually rather interesting if your the type of person interested in the world of cold hard statistics. That being said it reads like a standard news letter. It leads off with a list of “highlights” of the boards accomplishments over the last FY, followed by picture clad biographies of each of the board members, a useful tool for getting to know a little about who the unelected bureaucrats are who are running the industries regulatory system. Good or bad, this is almost as important as learning who your elected political officials are due to the fact that the laws/regulations they implement, which can often effect peoples everyday lives much more significantly than a standard politician, especially if said person is either a consumer or proprietor of a store in the industry.

The report then details the structure of the entire organization and even outlines each departments general purpose. Each department then details some of their statistics associated with their department. In the first major section of the report “Enforcement and Education” a wide range of statistics are shown that reflect the departments activities throughout the FY. Looking at the Cannabis enforcement section for example, “Each licensed and operating retail location received at least three compliance checks by the end of the fiscal year. No-sales-to-minors compliance rates were at 90 percent for FY 2017.” Right there we’ve got two pretty amazing pieces of information.

1. We know now that every licensed cannabis retail location receives at least 3 compliance checks per year
2. 10% of those checked apparently failed to meet the “No-sales-to-minors” compliance, though without assuming, we don’t necessarily know exactly what that means.

Moving through the report further we run into another interesting set of stats under the Licensing and Regulation section. There were 507 retail licensed cannabis businesses in FY17 throughout the state of Washington. Given the estimated population of Washington State in 2017 of 7.406 million people, that means that there was 1 retail cannabis stores for every 14,607 people in the state. There was even 13 cooperatives, which until reading the report I didn’t even know existed.

There are so many interesting stats and facts to glean from this report but by far my favorite aspects are the financial details. They show a comparison between tax income from FY16 and FY17, showing a massive $130 million dollar increase in tax revenue collected in FY17 totally a whopping $319 million in FY17 alone. Now that’s all well and good, but do they show what there spending that money on? Actually the answer to that is yes! They don’t go into exact detail of course but it does show how much went to each individual fund. $96.6 million went into the general fund “Revenue sent to the state General Fund is used to provide much-needed additional resources for education and other critical state services.” Further spending detail within each additional fund isn’t specified but it is good to know at least that much.

The report concludes with an overview of state legislation effecting the industries covered by the board, which in and of itself doesn’t go into much detail but does open the door for further and detailed research if that’s the path you choose to pursue.

In closing I would like to suggest anyone interested in the industries covered under the board should certainly read this report. It’s only 21 pages and is filled to the brim with very useful and informative material delivered in a very digestible format.

Get to reading.

WA State Liquor and Cannabis Report for FY17