Since the beginning of the year, recreational marijuana sales have generated nearly $25.5 million in revenue for the state of Oregon, with a significant percentage going to the state’s school systems.
Recreational marijuana in Oregon surpassed $100 million in sales between January and July, Fox News reports. According to data provided by the state’s Department of Revenue, Oregon medical marijuana dispensaries sold an estimated $102 million in adult use marijuana in seven months, bringing the state about $25.5 million in marijuana taxes.
Oregon legalized adult use marijuana after voters approved Measure 91 in 2014. The law took effect on July 1, 2015, and dispensaries began sales on October 1, but the state allowed sales to be tax-free until January 4 of this year. Since then, a 25 percent tax has been applied to all retail sales.
Oregon had pulled in nearly $60 million in recreational cannabis sales through May. The significant sales bump in the subsequent months was likely due to the marijuana market expanding to edibles, extracts, and topicals in early June.
“We know some people would embrace [edibles] because they don’t like smoking, for example, so it would be an easier thing to go to,” said Mazen Malik, senior state economist with the Office of Legislative Revenue. “Others would just want to try them because they are new and different and they want to see how they work.”
Oregon’s 2016 sales figures for the first seven months of the year relatively align with the $180 million to $220 million retail sales projections published in the Marijuana Business Factbook 2016. State economists expect that the state will earn about $44.4 million in revenue from marijuana taxes in 2016, Oregon Live reports, which would equate to $177.6 million in sales for the year.
Under Oregon’s law, a portion of the tax revenue ($12 million) will go toward the costs of regulating marijuana. The rest will be distributed to Oregon’s Common School Fund (40 percent), mental health, alcoholism and drug services (20 percent), Oregon State Police (15 percent), city law enforcement (10 percent), county law enforcement (10 percent), and the Oregon Health Authority (5 percent) for alcohol and drug abuse prevention and treatment.
Recreational marijuana sales are likely to further increase throughout the year, as more consumers continue to experiment with edibles and concentrates. Additionally, Oregon’s full recreational market is scheduled to launch October 1, with many more retail stores slated to open throughout the state. However, once the Oregon Liquor Control Commission fully launches the state’s regulated marijuana program, the 25 percent tax rate will be replaced with one between 17 to 20 percent.
Oregon’s most recent sales data has caused the state’s Legislative Revenue Office to reevaluate their revenue predictions. The office had originally estimated tax revenue through June 2017 to be $8.4 million. That estimation has since been bumped up to $35 million.
Besides Oregon, adult use marijuana is currently legal in three states – Alaska, Colorado, and Washington – as well as Washington D.C. Voters in California, Nevada, and Arizona will decide on recreational marijuana initiatives this November.
Read more about how Oregon’s adult use cannabis market has generated wages and jobs for Oregonians.