Oregon Cannabis Tax Revenue Up 45 Percent in First Quarter

Oregon officials are reporting an increase in cannabis tax revenue.
Oregon Cannabis Tax Revenue Up 45 Percent in First Quarter
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Oregon cannabis tax revenue numbers are currently up as of this quarter, with the area seeing an increase of 45 percent for the first quarter of the 2021 fiscal year over the first quarter of 2020. 

This most recent quarter, which began on July 1, brought in $46.9 million in total, 45 percent more than the first quarter in tax revenue receipts. 

So far, since the pandemic began, cannabis sales in Oregon have either exceeded sales in the past or been only slightly off from annual averages. There has been no negative impact in sales from COVID

Since cannabis has been legalized in Oregon, there has been some debate over how the tax revenue from cannabis dollars should be used in the state. There is still no firm agreement in place on how the tax money should be spent, but the one thing that is clear is that there is a lot of it. 

Even back in September, economists for the state projected that there would be big gains in tax revenue, as sales have been boosted by the COVID pandemic and have remained up. Despite the generous projections back then, these numbers are now looking even more impressive.

Analysts are now expecting $291 million in revenue for 2019 through 2021. This money would be brought in by the 17 percent tax on cannabis. The outlook from analysts has risen $31 million since May, and 54 percent since back in 2019. If this keeps up, the 2019 to 2021period could bring in as much as $320 in tax revenue. 

Where Does The Money Go?

Still, the issue remains that as it stands currently, Measure 110, a newly approved measure in Oregon, will cap the share of what taxes currently go to at $45 million a year. All additional money will now go to a Drug Treatment and Recovery Services Fund. 

Up until now, schools get 40 percent of tax revenue, and 20 percent goes to the Mental Health, Alcoholism and Drug Services account. Fifteen percent goes to state law enforcement, and 10 percent to the counties for law enforcement. Finally, 5 percent goes to the Oregon Health Authority to help with drug abuse prevention. 

When Measure 110 first passed, many didn’t think the legislation would make much of a difference. Forty-five million initially seemed like a major chunk of tax income, only leaving a small percent for the Drug Treatment and Recovery Services Fund, but now it looks like that fund could be getting the better end of the deal. 

On top of that, still others aren’t happy with the new or old arrangements when it comes to tax allocation. Social equity activists in the state would rather see a portion of the money go specifically to fix the damage the war on drugs has caused disproportionately to people of color. 

There’s clearly still debate over how cannabis tax dollars will inevitably be spent in Oregon. However, it’s evident that there is a lot of cannabis revenue to be had; it’s just a matter of how best to serve the community.

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