Courtesy photo

OLYMPIA - The cannabis industry continues to boom in the State of Washington when it comes to tax revenue. But, where is the money collected from taxes going?

In its 2018 fiscal year report, the Washington State Liquor & Cannabis Board said the State of Washington made $362 million in cannabis tax revenue, while the state collected $5.4 million in cannabis license fees alone.

That number is extensive, considering total liquor income the State of Washington collected in 2018 was $209.8 million, respectively.

In 2017, The State of Washington collected $315.2 million in revenue from cannabis taxes and $3.9 million from cannabis license fees.

Between 2018 and 2017, Washington State saw an increase of $48.3 million in revenue from cannabis taxes and licensing fees.

General Fund

In the annual report, $198.9 million from cannabis revenue was deposited into the Washington State General Fund which is used to provide 'much-needed' additional resources for education and other critical state services, the board stated in its annual report.

Health Care Services / Cities

More than $117 million of revenue from cannabis went towards funding health care services, while cities and counties in the state split $15 million.

Education and Prevention

A little more than $36 million dollars of cannabis income was allocated to Cannabis Education and Prevention.

Officials said the funds were used to distribute public education materials regarding the health and safety risks that are associated with cannabis. They added the revenue went to fund substance programs and mental health services across the state.

The revenue also was allocated to cannabis education and public health program, and grant programs for the prevention and reduction of youth cannabis use.


In 2018, $1.1 million of cannabis revenue was spent administering the Healthy Youth Survey which polls students in middle and high school in the state about marijuana and liquor consumption.

A portion of the more than one million dollars went towards a contract with the Washington State Institute for Public Policy to conduct a cost-benefit analysis regarding the implementation of Initiative 502 also known as the legalization of marijuana.

The University of Washington and Washington State University also received funds to research the effects of marijuana consumption.

More than $20 million of cannabis income was used to fund grants that supported Building Bridges programs. The income was also allocated for community health centers, which is funded by the Health Care Authority.

Marijuana tax revenue analysis

In 2016, the state collected $186 in cannabis tax revenue and $3 million in cannabis licensing fees. The state made more revenue in liquor consumption coming in at $201 million.

It is crystal clear that the State of Washington is making more money from cannabis sales than liquor sales, as cannabis revenue started to rise than liquor revenue each year beginning in 2017.

Compared to tobacco revenue the state collects, which was $0.1 million in 2016, $1 million in 2017, and $.6 million in 2018, the cannabis industry is a big money source for the state when it comes to what makes the most in taxes.

(2) comments


Good article Devin! Thanks, for shining light on this issue.


while a majority of the funds are used for health care and education there is a big part of it that is not. Our state leaders are spending money that when the original bill was passed suppose to be exclusively for education and health care. why do we need to spend 1 million per university studying the same thing? why is any of the funds going to bridges? All of the funds where supposed to be used education and health care? Im so glad that our elected people have no frigging idea what the people want and just do what ever they feel like! way to go Olymipia

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.