source: By The Associated Press
on February 19, 2014 at 2:46 PM, updated February 19, 2014 at 3:07 PM

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The state’s new legal recreational marijuana market is expected to bring nearly $190 million to state coffers over a four-year period starting in mid-2015, according to an economic forecast released Wednesday.

The forecast by the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council showed that $51 million in revenue is expected for the 2015-2017 biennium from marijuana production and sales. An additional $138.5 million is expected for the next two-year budget that ends mid-2019. A little under half of that revenue is expected from excise tax and license fees related to the marijuana market, and the rest is expected to come from retail sales tax and business taxes.

The passage of Initiative 502 in 2012 allowed the sale of the marijuana to adults for recreational use at licensed stores, which are expected to open by this summer.

Steve Lerch, the council’s executive director, said that because of concerns over local moratoriums and bans on pot sales and general uncertainty about how the system will work, the council has made assumptions that sales won’t start until June of next year.

“Obviously, as we see any actual sales we’ll be able to revise, if necessary, our forecast,” he said. “But these seemed like reasonable estimates.”

Democratic Rep. Ross Hunter, a member of the Revenue Forecast Council and the top budget writer in the House, said the money projected isn’t enough to make spending expectations.

“More money is better,” he said. “But there’s not a whole lot more here.”

Hunter said that he expects the forecasts to move around over the next couple of years as the market takes hold and lawmakers are able to see how much money there actually is.

“We just don’t know,” he said. “The expansion is slow, the stores aren’t open. Something’s going to happen, we don’t know exactly what it is. We’re using the best data we have.”

Colorado is the only other state to legalize recreational pot sales, and its marijuana market is far exceeding tax expectations, according to a budget proposal released Wednesday by Gov. John Hickenlooper. Retail sales began Jan. 1 in Colorado, and while sales have been strong, exact figures for January sales won’t be made public until early next month.

Read full article: http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2014/02/marijuana_sales_in_washington.html