According to the latest figures from the Department of Revenue, marijuana dispensaries in Oregon generated more than $60 million in tax revenue during 2016, far exceeding the expected figures. According to the senior economist for the Oregon Legislative Revenue Office, Mazen Malik, the state had only anticipated around $44 million in taxes from medical and recreational marijuana sales, indicating that business is booming for Portland dispensaries and those all around the state.
When Oregon first legalized recreational marijuana in July of 2015, sales in the first week totaled over $11 million, according to the Oregon Retailers of Cannabis Association. Those figures outpaced early business done in any other state with legal pot at the time.
Using the available tax figures, it’s likely that marijuana sales in Oregon totaled more than $241 million for 2016. Between January and September, the Oregon Health Authority mandated a 25% sales tax on all marijuana dispensaries, medical or recreational. But when the Oregon Liquor Control Commission took over for recreational regulation, state taxes were reduced to 17%, with additional city or local taxes varying by district.
Even the number of recreational pot dealers has grown during the year. At the beginning of 2016, the OLCC listed 232 active marijuana dispensaries. By the end of the year, that number had grown to 288.
Malik attributed the strength of sales in part to the broad availability of edibles, drinks, and salves, which did not have much of a market before the legalization of recreational use. Specially-formulated flowers such as our own Pineapple Diesel, Green Queen, and Blue Dream marijuana also help address both medicinal and recreational needs for customers with an ever-increasingly sophisticated palate for product.
The windfall of tax revenue collected from sales of marijuana in part goes into state funding for regulation of the industry itself, which costs the government about $28.7 million every year. The remaining funds, which are sizable for 2016, go towards education programs, mental health and substance abuse treatment services, and police programs.
As one of the early pioneers of legalization in the United States, Oregon has already proved that what’s good for consumers can also be good for the state.