As we covered last month, Oregon started offering recreational sales of marijuana through medical dispensaries Oct. 1. What wasn’t planned, though, was exactly how high those sales numbers would be.
On the first day of legal recreational sales, Oregon retailers saw an immense push for kush, selling $3.2 million on Oct. 1 alone. By the end of the week, more than $11 million had been spent on recreational sales in the state, according to Time. This total is more than double the $5 million in sales that Colorado experiences in its first week of legal sales, and more than five times what neighboring Washington sold in the first month.
This incredible demand shows the surging popularity of marijuana among recreational users in the state, but the sales surge alone is not the largest boon for the state. While sales presently remain tax free, thanks to a stipulation in the original Oregon statute that doesn’t levy taxes until Jan. 4, 2016, at the turn of the year, retailers will be collecting a 25 percent tax on purchases for recreational use from medical dispensaries, dropping to 17 to 20 percent taxes once recreational establishments open in the second half of next year.
Original estimates from the state called for approximately $10.7 million to be made from taxes, though with surging sales numbers early, those projections may be dwarfed by the realities of legalization. This is great news for the state’s finances, in particular the common school fund, which is slated to receive 40 percent of tax revenues, and state mental health, alcoholism and drug services programs, which will get 20 percent of the take.
While some of the original process and rollout suffered logistical issues with establishing a purchasing procedure and legal framework, it’s clear to see that the state is poised to have an incredibly successful program with recreational sales.