Regional Public Journalism
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
In 2012, Washington and Colorado voters made history when they approved measures to legalize recreational marijuana. Washington Initiative 502 “authorizes the state liquor board to regulate and tax marijuana for persons twenty-one years of age or older.”Since the vote in Washington, the Liquor Board has written a complex set of rules for the state’s new, legal recreational cannabis marketplace. The agency has also set limits on the amount of marijuana that can be grown. And the Board has begun to license growers, processors and retailers.For now, the Obama administration has signaled it will not interfere with Washington and Colorado’s legal pot experiment, unless there is evidence that legal pot is “leaking” to other states or children are getting access to the legal product. The feds are also watching to see if criminal organizations exploit the legal market.The first marijuana retail stores in Washington opened in July 2014.Recreational marijuana is also set to become legal in Oregon on July 1, 2015 after voters approved Measure 91 in November 2014.

Estimates Differ On How Much Tax Revenue Oregon's Marijuana Initiative Would Raise


Oregon’s legalized marijuana campaign says pot would generate about $39 million in tax revenue in its first year. Legislative revenue experts disagree.

They say the money would be well below that, at just over $9 million.

One of the selling points of legalizing marijuana is that it can generate new tax revenue for state services. That argument was made in this ad from the 2012 campaign in Washington state.

It’s early in Washington, but supply shortages have limited marijuana tax revenue during the first weeks of legal sales. Colorado’s expectation of $70 million in the first year has now been cut in half.

Anthony Johnson, the chief petitioner of Oregon's pot initiative, is not phased.

"No matter which economic analysis you consider, it's clear that this will be a revenue generator for the state,” he said.

With Initiative 53 going before voters this fall, Johnson said the Oregon legalization campaign will likely use a range of figures in its ads instead of focusing on a specific amount.

The money raised by taxing pot in Oregon would be divvied up among schools, law enforcement and drug treatment programs.