Brief: Legalization in Oregon Offers Only Economic Benefits

The potential legalization and subsequent regulation of recreational marijuana in Oregon is beginning to look like — from a purely economic viewpoint — it would be a “net win” across the board for the state.

“Marijuana is already a serious economic force in Oregon,” says Seth Crawford, Oregon State University’s resident expert on marijuana policies and market structure. “When you consider the proposed excise tax and additional revenue from income taxes, it could become a sizable income stream for the state.” As per Crawford’s estimations, legalization could net Oregon anywhere from $35 million to $105 million in new tax revenue per year; legalization would also save the state money in police and court expenses.

Voters will be deciding in November whether or not Measure 91 — which legalizes for adults aged 21 and older the use of marijuana, the possession of up to eight ounces of dried cannabis, and the personal cultivation of no more than four cannabis plants — will pass. It will fall to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) to decide how exactly regulations will be implemented.

Meanwhile, the campaigning efforts behind Measure 91 have approached record amounts, with approximately $2.3 million recently spent on a television advertising campaign — that’s almost the entire budget used passing Amendment 64 in Colorado in 2012. Polls in Oregon continue to suggest majority approval ratings on Measure 91.


Photo Credit: Loren Kerns

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