Oregoners consume a lot of cannabis. When adjusted for population size, we outpace our neighbors in Washington State, and are keeping up with Colorado’s sales as well. The Oregon Office of Economic Analysis released a report in early June outlining why they think we can keep up with the original legalized state, and some obstacles in the way of that progress.
The report outlined four major reasons why there is strong evidence for Oregon to be a competitive earner in the bustling industry. First, the point made above: the people or Oregon consume a lot of cannabis and it’s derivative products, and accordingly have high concentrations of shops selling these products, especially in Portland. The state also burdens cannabis products with fewer taxes in comparison to other legalized states, encouraging sales. While Oregon smokes more that Washington State, we also sell the product to our neighbor, further boosting numbers.
Josh Lehner, the economist behind the report, cautions that there are multiple factors that could slow growth. While sales are “poised for strong growth,” they are likely not going to be as strong as Colorado’s second and third years. Additionally, supply constraints, such as regulations that make it difficult for growers and processors to access licenses, keeping inventory low and hindering sales.
The other major concern is one that’s on many minds: the potential of a federal crackdown, as signaled by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Though there are currently protections in place at the federal level to prevent the federal government from prosecuting federal cannabis laws in legalized states, the Attorney General and other Justice Department officials are requesting some of these protections not be renewed, or suggesting they may be changed.
Currently, though, it seems unlikely but not entirely unplausible. While state governments, including Oregon, are starting to discuss how they’ll protect industries and consumers in legalized states, and there are stirrings in the federal government to similarly protect legalized medical and even recreational cannabis, only time can really tell the outcome.
“While there has been no clear warning or action taken,” Lehner outlines in the Report, “there is a non-zero chance the federal government could step in and eliminate, or severely restrict recreational marijuana sales. In this event, taxes collected would be considerably less than forecasted.”