Schools, police, public health and safety officials and local government administrators in Oregon are all smiling big this week.
Noelle Crombie of The Oregonian reported that the Oregon Department of Revenue will be disbursing a weighty sum for a number of important state programs this week – $85 million – from taxes generated by the legal recreational cannabis industry. The $85 million represents the first payout these services have seen since implementation of legal, adult-use sales, a number that is only going to flourish in the coming years.
And all we had to do was stop putting people in jail for a plant!
Well, that and create a regulatory infrastructure for a previously illegal, informal market – not to understate the ugly and tedious process of rule-making. But mostly the policy of prohibition had to end (and has to end) in order for states to enjoy the public bounty that cannabis provides. After living in a legal cannabis state, many of us wonder why it is taking the rest of the country so long to figure this out.
From The Oregonian:
“Oregon collected a total of $108.6 million in state and local taxes between Jan. 4, 2016, and Aug. 31, 2017. The state put $9.56 million toward the Oregon Liquor Control Commission’s “start-up costs” for regulating the industry and toward the Department of Revenue’s work to collect the taxes.
“The rest was divvied up according to a formula spelled out by law: The state school fund gets 40 percent, or $34 million; mental health, alcoholism and drug services get 20 percent, or $17 million; Oregon State Police get 15 percent, or $12.75 million, and the Oregon Health Authority gets 5 percent, which comes to $4.25 million.
“…Ninety-five Oregon local governments impose a local sales tax of up to 3 percent; the Department of Revenue collects those taxes on behalf of 71 local communities, including Portland.”
I am hopeful that other states, such as my own home of Missouri, will hear the message from states like Oregon which are seeing the real financial impact of changing cannabis laws. I’m watching closely as my colleagues from Show-Me Cannabis and New Approach Missouri fight one of the country’s last ballot initiative battles for medical cannabis.
To be clear, I don’t want to confuse medical and recreational use. I just think many of the more conservative states are slower to admit to themselves they do, in fact, support legalization. It may take a hot minute for those legislators to hear the message that total repeal of prohibition is the answer, but fortunately (at least in this case), money talks. $85 million talks a lot.
To stay up-to-date on all things Oregon cannabis, be sure to attend the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference on November 18-19th in Ashland. To learn from and network with cannabis industry entrepreneurs, political advocates and investors from around the United States and the globe, you should check out the International Cannabis Business Conference in Kauai, Hawaii, December 1st thru the 3rd or the ICBC in San Francisco February 1-2, 2018.