Washington continues to inhale money from Idaho thanks to disparate Cannabis policies

Washington continues to inhale money from Idaho thanks to disparate Cannabis policies

The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board recently released data showing how much money was spent statewide on cannabis in fiscal 2023.

In fiscal 2023 — July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023 — roughly $1.26 billion was spent on recreational cannabis in Washington. That led to an excise tax haul of $466 million statewide.

In other words, the state made a ton of money off legal cannabis.

The raw numbers may be interesting on their own, but when you apply some geography to them, they tell an even more interesting story: Washington state not only made a ton of money off legal cannabis, but it appears that it made a ton of money off another state — Idaho — simply because that other state has not legalized cannabis.

The four Washington counties that border Idaho are head-and-shoulders above the rest of Washington's counties when it comes to money spent on cannabis per person.

Spokane County, which borders Idaho's Kootenai County, the most populous county in the northern half of Idaho, averaged $242.98 in cannabis sales per resident in fiscal 2023, well above the Washington state average of $158.19 per person.

The same can be said for two of Spokane's neighboring counties that border Idaho — Whitman ($241.67 per resident) and Pend Oreille ($347.66 per resident) — as well as Asotin County in Washington's southeast corner (a whopping $576.55 per resident).

Those are the only four counties in Washington that share a border with a state where cannabis remains illegal. (Cannabis is legal in Oregon and in the Canadian province of British Columbia.) They're also consistently, year-over-year, among the top counties in the state in per-capita spending on cannabis.

Since at least 2020, three of those four counties have ranked among the top-three within the state every year when it comes to cannabis spending. Only Pend Oreille — the least populous county that borders one of the least populous parts of Idaho, relatively speaking — has shown any sort of fluctuation in these statewide rankings.

Washington counties that border Idaho continue to inhale tax dollars thanks to Idaho's refusal to legalize recreational cannabis. But, it seems, regardless of which side of the invisible state line people live on, they will spend money on cannabis.

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Region: Washington Idaho

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