The budding marijuana industry has brought in tens of millions in tax dollars for Washington and Oregon, but one state seems to be making more cash from their cannabis sales.
Washington voters legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, and Oregon followed suit two years later. The financial success in both states is clear, nearly doubling initial revenue projections.
“Right now, Oregon is selling about $40 million a month in recreational marijuana. That’s translating into, you know, $7-8 million a month in tax revenue for the state,” said Josh Lehner of the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis.
Both states spend millions worth of that money on drug abuse treatment programs and anti-drug abuse ad campaigns.
Most of Oregon’s marijuana money goes to schools, while half of Washington’s funds health care programs.
This fiscal year Oregon will pull in just over $300 million in marijuana revenue.
Washington state is bringing in 4.6 percent more at about $314 million.
Lehner says the difference is due to simple math -Washington has more people.
“They have more sales overall. But when you control for the population size, we’re significantly outselling the State of Washington for recreational marijuana,” he said.
Both states expect sales will keep growing.
“The state has been very consistent in its projections at least but certainly sales continue to increase across the state,” said Brian Smith, the spokesperson for the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board.
Washington state this year also put new restrictions on marijuana advertising by banning sandwich boards, flags and any use of marijuana plants in ads. Lawmakers were worried that kind of advertising might bring complaints and could give the federal government a reason to crack down on recreational marijuana sales.
It remains to be seen whether it will impact sales. All of those types of ads are still allowed in Oregon.