Pot sales record almost broken on an odd Wednesday

We came very close to breaking the record sales day for marijuana in Washington state on a very odd date. On Wednesday, Feb. 11, the Liquor Control Board reported more than $1.1 million in daily pot sales – $1,154,919.11 to be precise.

The following day, Thursday, Feb. 12, also came close, with about $1.02 million – $1,019,936.40 to be technical – in daily sales.

The record was set on New Years Eve, Dec. 31, 2014, with more than $1.2 million in sales ($1,217,025.96).

The sales data is below. It’s also available on the Liquor Control Board’s Frequently Requested Lists section here: http://www.liq.wa.gov/records/frequently-requested-lists


Overall, the state has reported more than $95 million in sales since recreational marijuana sales began on July 8, 2014, with nearly $24 million in excise tax collected.

So what’s up with that weird Wednesday?

I’m speculating a bit, but Feb. 11 was the day that the LCB stopped stores from bundling pipes, lighters and other items with marijuana. Bundling allowed stores to sell marijuana at just a dollar or two above cost, lessening the amount of taxes paid (the taxes are much greater on marijuana than they are on pipes), while overcharging for a secondary item like a pipe, to make up for the difference.

For the stores across the state that were bundling, the method was a work-around to fight what many call an overburdening tax structure that makes it difficult to compete with the black market.

But stores that never bundled because they were concerned the practice was illegal complained that it gave their competitors an unfair advantage.

I’ve heard there’s a lawsuit in the works against the LCB to challenge the ban, but it’s in the early stages so far and hasn’t yet been filed.

But the $1.1 million sales day shows that the practice was changing the market. Feb. 11 is a pretty decent jump compared with the general (eyeball) average of about $650,000 or so a day prior to the switch. And excise taxes collected also jumped from somewhere around $175,000 a day to $288,730 on Feb. 11.

It will be interesting to see where things go from here.

-SueVo (sue.vorenberg@columbian.com)