by Hans D. Stroo on September 25, 2014

Research commissioned by the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) estimated that residents consume a combined 175 metric tons of marijuana annually. Another report from WSLCB estimated the market value of annual pot consumption at $1.25 billion to 1.5 billion annually.

The value of Washington’s marijuana consumption is larger than the state’s entire wheat industry, and about half that of its world famous apple industry.

The $1.25-1.5 billion estimate reflects only the value of consumption by residents. But if we assume that Washington is a net exporter of marijuana, then the market value of total consumption serves as a proxy for the minimum value of marijuana grown in-state. If, as anecdotal evidence suggests, the state is a major player in the export market, then the actual scope of production is likely far greater.

June 2013 study by Carnegie Melon University economists said Washington State has “large-scale black market production of indoor- and outdoor- grown marijuana for export to other states.” Back in 2006, a study estimated Washington’s production-to-consumption ratio at 1.15, meaning that total production was 15 percent more than total consumption.

Of course, whether the state can turn this pot growing into revenue is a matter of how effective it will be capturing market share among the state’s cannibis smokers. That remains an open question. WSLCB has set a goal of capturing a quarter of black market transactions within its retail system by the end of 2014.

Data on non-marijuana agricultural production is sourced from the 2013 Annual Agricultural Bulletin released by the USDA and reflects the year 2012.