A new report released from the RAND Drug Policy Research Center has found that past projections of cannabis consumption in Washington for 2013 fell short – by hundreds of thousands of pounds.
The report estimates the weight of cannabis consumed in Washington in 2013 based on data collected from existing household surveys and a new web-based consumption survey, and the results indicate that previous projections of Washington’s consumption rate for 2013 reflected less than half of actual consumption for the year:
“While the Washington Office of Financial Management projected that 85 metric tons (MT) of marijuana would be consumed in the state in 2013, this report suggests that estimate is probably too low, perhaps by a factor of two. There is inevitable uncertainty surrounding estimates of illegal and quasi-illegal activities, so it is better to think in terms of a range of possible sizes, rather than a point estimate. Analyses suggest a range of 135–225 MT, which might loosely be thought of as a 90-percent confidence interval, with a median estimate close to 175 MT.”
The Washington State Liquor Control Board, the entity tasked with regulating the upcoming recreational cannabis market, intends to allow 80 metric tons of cannabis to be produced in the first year; half for use as dried bud, half to be used in infused products (edibles, lotions, etc.).
Along with insight into Washington’s aggregate consumption, other key findings of the study include:
- 64% of Washington residents who responded in the online survey reported using cannabis at least 21 days per month.
- Washington residents who use cannabis 21 or more times per month consume, on average, an estimated 1.3–1.9 grams during a typical use day.
- More than half (50.7%) of Washington residents who consume cannabis 21 or more times a month reported having dabbed hash oil within the past year.
- 77.8% of Washington residents who reported using cannabis within the last year had consumed cannabis-infused edibles.
- Available information suggests that lower-potency forms of cannabis account for only a small amount of the Washington market, probably a smaller share than they do nationwide, and indicates that it is probable that cannabis in Washington is, on average, of higher potency than elsewhere in the United States, perhaps even higher than in neighboring states.
The study concludes by elaborating on how difficult it is to draw definitive conclusions from information provided through surveys where people are hesitant to self-report their own cannabis use, but states that If cannabis is less stigmatized, users may be more honest about their consumption.