Types of Cannabis Plants

In July, 2012, Island County Commissioner Helen Price-Johnson told her south-end island constituents that the “cash crops are flourishing“, but she didn’t specify as to which cash crops she was alluding. In Island County, Washington, the average value of crops sold per acre for harvested cropland is $328.57. Depending on its quality, a single ounce of marijuana presently sells for $200 – $250 in Washington State.

In 2012, Washington State voters passed the Washington Marijuana Legalization and Regulation, Initiative 502, a recreational marijuana law. Revenue projections assume a retail sale price of $12 per gram ($340 per ounce) under I-502.


Way back in 1996, marijuana allegedly ranked as the #2 cash crop in Washington State, just behind apples, and Washington was ranked the #5 state in marijuana production nationwide. A 1997 ranking, gave marijuana a more modest 5th place cash crop ranking in the Evergreen State, following apples, wheat, potatoes and hay, but ahead of cherries, grapes, pears, hops and barley.

Under previous and still-existing law (Medical Cannabis RCW 6951.a) only authorized patients:

  • Can grow up to 15 plants and
  • Can possess up to 24 ounces of usable cannabis, but
  • It is not legal to buy or sell it.

Under Initiative Measure 502 individuals twenty-one years of age or older are legally authorized to possess and use:

  • One ounce of useable marijuana.
  • 16 ounces of marijuana infused product in solid form; or
  • 72 ounces of marijuana infused product in liquid form.
  • Marijuana-related drug paraphernalia.

The Washington State Liquor Control Board has created a Fact Sheet that delineates many of the provisions I-502, including definitions of a “Producer”, “Processor” or “Retailer” and who gets to pay the 25% excise tax each time a regulated product changes hands. The estimated producer price is $3 per gram ($85 per ounce) and the estimated processor price is $6 per gram ($170 per ounce).

Using I-502’s presumed sales and tax structure, a single ounce of marijuana sold valued at $340 retail will net the state of WA $148.75 in excise tax, plus “any/all applicable general, state, and local sales and use taxes”. Since the average retail sales taxes in WA State is presently (mid-year 2012) at 8.83%, tack on about another $30, for about $180 total in state taxes for each ounce of cannabis sold.

In Colorado, voters also passed a recreational marijuana law, the Colorado Marijuana Legalization Initiative, Amendment 64 on the same day upon which Washington’s I-502 approved voter approval. The Colorado measure limits cultivation to six marijuana plants per person. Under I-502, “Grow-your-own” pot is still banned in Washington. Both states prohibit public use.

In an article claiming that “Colorado And Washington Are The First Places In The World Where Weed Is Truly Legal“, Beau Kilmer, codirector of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center and coauthor of Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know, was quoted stating:

  • “If production moves from basements and backyards to industrial farms and huge greenhouses … we would expect the production cost to plummet”
  • “So much depends on not only the federal response but the type of production [the state regulations] allow,”…”Ultimately that will influence the retail prices and the tax revenues.”
I have not seen evidence of downward retail price pressure upon, for example, beer, even though home-brewing is legal in Washington State, and those laws were recently loosened earlier in 2012. Of course, unlike cannabis, beer has been readily available at the retail level in hundreds of iterations for many decades following the repeal of Prohibition in the United States.

These new issues will work themselves out as time moves forward. In the meantime, just below is a look backwards, to 1936’s “Reefer Madness”: a colorized and restored version of a (now) cult classic.

presently sells for