by Melanie Marquis
Oregon weed smokers will soon be paying more for recreational cannabis. Beginning January 4th, dispensaries will be required to collect a 25% tax on all recreational marijuana purchases. Recreational marijuana has been tax-free since the first retail sales began in October 2015, giving buyers a break on prices. On average, a gram of recreational flower sells for anywhere from $8 to $15 in Oregon, with quarter-ounces ranging from a low $25 to a high $150. Oregon state law limits recreational cannabis purchases to no more than a quarter-ounce in one day, so retailers are unable to offer discounts on larger quantities like buyers in Colorado enjoy. With the new taxes, what used to be an $8 gram will now cost $10, while a $60 quarter will jump up to $75. Considering that most moderate to heavy herb smokers go through substantially more than a quarter-ounce per week, that additional 25% tax per purchase could really add up.
Retail recreational marijuana sales in Oregon topped 11 million in the first month alone, so the new cannabis taxes will likely add millions to the state's annual income. The tax revenue will be split between state and local agencies, with the largest shares going to the Common School Fund and to Mental Health, Alcoholism, and Drug Services.
Currently, recreational cannabis is sold only through medical dispensaries in Oregon, but new stand-alone recreational-only dispensaries are expected to open starting in October 2016. Sales at the new dispensaries will only be subjected to a 17% tax, with cities and counties having the option of imposing an additional 3% tax if they choose to do so.
Despite the increase in taxes and higher prices in the interim, the cost of recreational marijuana in Oregon may eventually decrease over the next few years as more dispensaries open and the market stabilizes. There is currently a lot of variation and fluctuation in Oregon cannabis prices, with dispensaries still struggling to find the right balance between costs, supply, and demand.
What's certain is that at least until next October when the first recreational-only dispensaries open, you'll soon be paying a solid 25% more for your weed. If you're concerned about your bud budget, you might want to stock up on tax-free weed while you can, making as many purchases as the law allows between now and January 4th. Also, be sure to check CannaSaver daily for money-saving coupons and special offers from your local cannabis retailers.