Following the footsteps of Colorado and Washington, Oregon quietly legalized recreational marijuana and posted $11 million in retail sales on its first week. According to Casey Houlihan of the Oregon Retailers of Cannabis Association, recreational weed sales amounted up to $3.5 million by the end of opening day, despite the lack of fanfare surrounding the event.
Marijuana possession in limited quantities has been permitted since July 1, but there was no legal way to buy weed until October 1, where more than 250 medical marijuana dispensaries opened its doors to recreational users.
“We’re seeing about 500 people a day,” said Jeff Johnson, owner of Nectar dispensary in Portland.
Houlihan also noted that many of the consumers have not smoked pot for years. “They’re telling me that customers lining up are in many cases 50 to 65 and haven’t purchased marijuana in decades, but they’re just happy to have the opportunity to do so,” he said.
In comparison with other states, opening week sales in Colorado only reached $5 million. Washington even posted a lot less, with only $2 million in pot sales during the first month. That was probably because Colorado only had 24 stores selling pot during the first day of legalization. Washington only had four.
Before legalizing recreational marijuana, Oregon already had a robust supply of cannabis for medical marijuana users, especially in southern Oregon, which boasts of highly favorable conditions for the cultivation of weed. A lot of companies have also invested in massive warehouses in Portland for growing cannabis indoors. Without strict regulations on growing pot, supply could flow more easily into Oregon’s retail stores than it did in both Colorado and Washington.
Another reason why recreational marijuana attracted a lot of customers in Oregon is because it is currently discounted. The state will only start levying a 25 percent tax on retail sales on January 2016.
The opening week of recreational weed sales in Oregon did not have a lot of national and international coverage, which just goes to show that marijuana legalization is no longer a big deal for many. With more states contemplating on joining the bandwagon, it sure looks like marijuana legalization will become the new norm in the near future.
Can Oregon become the new leader in legal marijuana in the United States? Voice your opinions in the comments section below – your opinion matters to the nation.