WASHINGTON: Figuring out how much marijuana people use has been one of the trickiest, and most important, questions facing the bureaucrats who are setting up Washington state’s new legal pot system.
Underestimate demand, and marijuana fans might stick with their black market dealers. Overestimate it, and the surplus legal production could wind up being diverted out of state, or to kids.
Now, researchers working with the state’s official pot consultant think they have their best look yet at cannabis consumption in Washington – aided by a novel survey aimed at figuring out how much the heaviest users of marijuana burn on a typical day. In a study released Wednesday, a RAND Corp. team figured that Washington’s roughly 750,000 marijuana users will have consumed between 135 to 225 metric tons of the drug in 2013.
The median figure they came up with, 175 metric tons, is more than twice what the state estimated before voters approved Washington’s legal weed law last year. But officials have been aware since June that RAND’s researchers were headed toward the higher number, and they say the new study won’t require any sudden changes to the rollout of the state system.
“That’s the ballpark of what we’re looking at with our system,” said Brian Smith, a spokesman for the state Liquor Control Board, the agency charged with regulating marijuana in Washington.