Recreational marijuana prices are falling and, in much of the state, retail options are plentiful. It appears to be a cannabis consumer’s dream, or at least what voters hoped for back in 2014 when Measure 91 was passed. Now, it has not been an entirely smooth ride to date, and concerns remain. Chief among them, as the new Secretary of State audit spells out, would be enforcement and ensuring products are tracked and accounted for. Additionally, potential saturation issues for growers, processors, and retailers indicate that some industry shakeout, or market consolidation is likely.
First, marijuana prices are continuing to decline. This is true here in Oregon, and in Colorado and Washington. Much of this is to be expected as businesses become more experienced in the newly legalized industry, which allows for efficiency gains. Furthermore, increased competition can lead to lower prices as well. Now, given Oregon levies the marijuana tax based on price, our office lists price as a risk to the outlook. Lower prices, everything else equal, would lead to lower revenues. However, lower prices should also lead to larger consumption. Demand curves do slope down. Further complicating the marijuana industry is the ongoing presence of the black market, which also competes on price, and can undercut the legal market at least in part due to the lack of regulations, product testing, etc.
While lower prices are a clear boon for consumers, they can lead to problems for some businesses. This is particularly true for those unable to adjust due to their business model, fixed costs, debt loads, and the like. For example, a firm may be profitable at a certain price point, however marijuana prices are falling by 10-20% per year. If that firm is unable to lower its operating expenses enough, accept lower profit margins, etc. then it can be in financial trouble. Grumblings within the industry suggest this is happening, at least in part due to market saturation. Now, is it truly a concern from an industry wide perspective, or from a consumer’s point of view? Unlikely. However, for any particular business it can be devastating.
This second chart tries to frame recreational marijuana market saturation here in Oregon relative to Colorado and Washington. In all three states, the number of recreational marijuana retailers is about the same, or just over 500. However, once you adjust the numbers based on population, it is clear that Oregon has significantly more stores. This does not necessarily mean Oregon is over-stored. It may be, but it may also be the case that the other states are under-stored. In fact, Colorado currently supports more marijuana stores overall due to their robust medical marijuana market. The error bars in the chart are an effort to show both the total number of marijuana storefronts (recreational + medical), in addition to just the recreational stores.
Now, there are an additional 140 or so retailer applications in the OLCC system. Should these stores open, it would push Oregon significantly past Colorado, even on a population adjusted basis. What all of this does mean is there is more competition for every Oregon recreational marijuana dollar, and this will likely increase. As such, average sales per retailer in Oregon are lower, leading to the industry shakeout or market consolidation concerns or expectations. Pete Danko had a good article in the Portland Business Journal recently about this.
As economist Beau Whitney notes, it’s easy to envision a long-run outcome for marijuana that is similar to the beer industry. One segment of the market is mass-produced and lower priced products. This will be the end result of the commodification of marijuana. Margins will be low, but due to scale, businesses remain viable. These are more likely to be outdoor grow operations as well, due to costs. Even in a world of legalized marijuana nationwide, it is plausible that Oregon, along with California, would remain a national leader in this market due to agricultural and growing conditions in the Emerald Triangle.
The second segment of the marijuana market would be similar to craft beer today. This segment would include smaller grow operations of specialty strains, higher value-added products like oils, creams and edibles. Such products will require and command higher prices. However, as our office has noted previously, it is here among the value-added manufacturing processes, in addition to building up the broader cluster of suppliers, and ancillary industries that Oregon will see the real economic impact of recreational marijuana. If all we have are growers and retailers, there will not be a large impact. Furthermore, the long-term potential of exporting Oregon products and business know-how to the rest of the country remains large.
Even if this market bifurcation materializes, it does not mean it will be an entirely smooth transformation. Conditions today are great for consumers, but potentially worrisome for some businesses. It will be interesting to watch how the market and industry continues to evolve. Our office’s forecast expects sales to continue to increase due to both new customers as usage increases and social acceptance of marijuana rises over time, and due to black market conversion. It’s the latter that is the most worrisome from a long-run perspective of industry viability. This is why enforcement and compliance are key issues being addressed by policymakers and industry professionals today.
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The big news this morning is that the federal government, led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions is set to rescind the so-called Cole memo, or memos as the case may be. For those who don’t know, the New York Times describes it as “an Obama-era policy of discouraging federal prosecutors from bringing charges of marijuana-related crimes in states that had legalized sales of the drug.” In practice this allowed Colorado and Washington first, followed by Oregon, Alaska, Nevada, and now California to establish recreational marijuana markets and not worry too heavily about federal prosecutors cracking down on these operations which were legal at the state level, but never legal at the federal level.
Last year, our office was tasked with forecasting recreational marijuana tax revenues for the state. You can read our summary here. Included in our work, and discussed with our advisory group was the possibility of changes in federal policy, or direction. This was especially salient given the changes in the executive branch. Our forecast summarizes it as a risk (PDF pg 38):
Finally, the one risk that looms large over the entire forecast is the federal government. While there has been no clear warning or action taken, there is a non-zero chance the federal government could step in and eliminate, or severely restrict recreational marijuana sales. In this event, taxes collected would be considerably less than forecasted.
Well, now there does appear to some action taken. Ultimately it will likely come down to enforcement, and the choices prosecutors make. We will be meeting with our advisory group again this month, and will discuss the implications of these changes, along with other issues and trends in the recreational marijuana market. More on this after our meeting and as we get closer to the Feb 16th forecast.
All of this brings us to this edition of the Graph of the Week, which shows monthly recreational marijuana sales for Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Nevada. These sales figures are estimates based on reported tax collections, and do not include medical marijuana sales. In total across the four states, they are seeing around $250 million in recreational marijuana sales per month. Additionally, all states continue to see growth in this newly legalized world. However the exact level of sales is also determined by the size of the population, usage rates, and tax policy, among other factors.
In fact, in my preferred chart in comparing sales trends, Oregon’s first year and a half of sales are nearly identical to Colorado’s first year and a half of sales, after you control for population size. Let’s call this the Bonus Graph of the Week. Also note that Nevada is seeing strong sales in their first few months. Nevada is currently selling about the same amount of recreational marijuana as Oregon is today, however with a much smaller population. Their initial adjusted sales data is the highest we’ve seen among the legalized states. Nevada and Las Vegas in particular are also a tourism hub, and thus are seeing larger sales than the resident population alone would suggest. I don’t have a huge reason to believe cannabis tourism is a big factor in Oregon’s sales, but I think it clearly is in Nevada.
As we write in our forecasts, there are a lot of risks to the recreational marijuana outlook. In particular, usage rates, prices, harvest levels, regulations and the like both have upside and downside implications for the forecast. However, none of those loom as large as changes in federal policy. Today’s actions may end up mattering substantially, or not so much, but we don’t know the answer yet. Our office will continue to work with our advisors, and to adjust the tax revenue outlook accordingly.
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Tulsi Gabbard legislates for Hawaii’s 2nd District in the House of Representatives. In Congress, she has proven to be an outspoken supporter of cannabis rights on all fronts and introduced a current proposal to completely deschedule marijuana. She will be speaking at the upcoming International Cannabis Business Conference in Kauai, December 2017.
Earlier in 2017 Tulsi introduced house bill HR 1227, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, with cosponsor Congressman Tom Garret, R-Virginia.
Tutsi has written thoughtfully on the issue. Her November 2017 statement, Tulsi Gabbard on Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition, should be required reading by all politicians. She makes great sense, mentioning the Schedule I stifling of research, dangerous cash practices with current banking restrictions, and the disastrous War on Drugs damages to the lives of tens of millions of Americans. She states,
Whether an individual chooses to use marijuana or not should be treated the same as whether they choose to use alcohol or tobacco.
The higher the elected office Tulsi attains, the better off America will be. She is an attractive candidate with her progressive views and veteran’s perspective. She served honorably in the Army National Guard, including a tour of duty in Iraq. She has strong and thoughtful opinions and actions to many of the country’s and planet’s key problems. Many of us would like to see her as President.
Hear Representative Tulsi Gabbard in Kauai December 1-3 at the ICBC conference. Support her political career at this link.
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Members of the Canadian House of Commons health committee have been hearing testimony this week about the planned roll-out for Canada’s cannabis legalization program, which is set to go into effect in July 2018 – not a long time from now, for those familiar with the cannabis industry. Investors and entrepreneurs interested in the Canadian market are making their moves now, and paying close attention to how things transpire this week in Ottawa.
Major takeaways so far include the usual rabble-rabble from opponents to cannabis legalization, including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP), Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and good ol’ Kevin Sabet from from the U.S. organization Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM).
Rick Barnum of the OPP laments that police simply won’t be able to adjust to new policy by July 1, 2018, calling such feats of fantasy “impossible”. I somehow doubt there is much Rick would admit to that would make his police force sound so weak under other circumstances, but that rapacious nature of the cannabis plant – it’s just too much, people!
Joanne Crampton, the RCMP assistant commissioner for federal policing criminal operations, testified that legalization won’t solve issues of the criminal market, and that thinking so is “naive”. While I don’t disagree that there will continue to be an underground market until the new regulatory structures have had time to take effect, the fear-mongering from the law enforcement community on this issue seems far more likely to continue far into the future.
And of course, United States’ most ardent adversary, Kevin Sabet of SAM, whose years-long campaign of rhetoric against cannabis legalization has been reduced to “slow down.”
“The only people that benefit from speed in this issue are the business people that are really waiting to get rich. There is no benefit to going fast on this issue at all,” said Sabet. “I understand it may be too late, but I still think that forgoing legalization in favour of reducing criminal sanctions and deterring marijuana use is the best way from public health.”
Thankfully, the ruling Liberal Party, led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, understands that cannabis prohibition is a failed and harmful policy. Despite the hysterical assurances from legalization opponents that the sky will fall, the Canadian government seems bound and determined to move forward on rolling out their new policy by July 2018.
Want to find out more about how Canada’s market will look post-prohibition? Join the International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC) next June 24 and 25, 2018 in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Want to find out how other international markets are looking? Join all of ICBC’s events in Kauai, Hawaii; San Francisco, California; and Berlin, Germany.
Photo courtesy of Cannabis Culture via Creative Commons license on flikr.
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The conservative Heritage Foundation has developed a dangerous document to help destroy state legalized cannabis.
The powerful Heritage Foundation has had substantial influence upon Republicans since it helped chaperon Ronald Reagan and is providing major guidance to the Donald Trump administration. The foundation, abbreviated Heritage, is supposedly conservative, but without the commitment to small government, state’s rights, and individual liberty. Heritage’s brand of authoritarian conservationism emphasizes bigger military, aggressive and preemptive military action around the world, and social conservatism. Apart from gun rights, the foundation rejects the more constitutional and libertarian conservationism that would emphasize smaller government and individual rights.
This devious scheme, How Trump’s DOJ Can Start Enforcing Federal Marijuana Law, was penned by Heritage’s Cully Stimson. The 11-point plan uses government coercion to demolish state medical and adult-use legalizations of marijuana. Michael Roberts wrote of the plan and some of the worried reaction in Westword.com. He quotes Justin Strekal, NORML’s policy director,
I’ve been screaming about this to anyone who will listen, just because of the outsized influence the Heritage Foundation has had over the administration’s policies.
The Heritage Foundation’s 11-point plan is printed below, along with commentary. This insidious scheme is a blue-print for big, coercive government to crush to freedoms, livelihoods, and medical choices of tens of millions of Americans.
1. Reaffirm support for the law. Issue a statement affirming the incoming administration’s commitment to the Controlled Substances Act with the goal of reducing, not expanding, the use of marijuana in the nation.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has repeatedly spoken against marijuana and its legalization. Recently, Session claimed “that this drug is dangerous, you cannot play with it, it is not funny, it’s not something to laugh about . . . and to send that message with clarity that good people don’t smoke marijuana.”
The president has made forceful but vague comments about the evils of drugs in general: “…the criminal cartels that have spread across our nation and are destroying the blood of our youth.” It seems that Trump is content to let Jeff Sessions set policy on drugs, including marijuana, not good for legal marijuana.
2. Coordinate with lower-level officials. Have the new attorney general prioritize reaching out to governors and key law enforcement officials in states that have legalized marijuana to work with them on enforcement of federal marijuana laws.
Jeff Sessions has “reached out” to political leaders in legal states, basically challenging them to confront his accusations that legal marijuana in their state is out of control and somehow a threat to the nation. Governors of four adult-use legal states, Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Alaska have given his meddling a cold reception. So far, the Attorney General’s efforts here have been an abysmal failure.
These state governors, their attorneys general, and law enforcement, including state police, have informed Jeff Session’s that his analysis is in error, that they are working hard on successfully regulating state legal marijuana, and by the way, stay out of our state.
One set of “lower-level officials” Sessions may have much more success with is local, county, and regional law enforcement and drug task forces. With this tactic the feds can by-pass newly reluctant state officials, and bring down the drug war hammer to America’s highways. Sessions is pushing asset forfeiture programs where the DEA returns a good portion of seized asset directly back to the police who seized them. This program, if implemented on a massive scale would provide Sessions with an army of drug warriors on the ground and an enormous cash flow free from any congressional restrictions on spending.
3. Reassert America’s drug position on the world stage. The White House should make clear that the United States continues to support the three international drug conventions, and that it intends to change its domestic policy to reflect that support.
“Changes in domestic policy” is code for de-legalize medical and adult use marijuana in all states. These three treaties, which the US has long used to badger any country wishing to explore any policy other than hard line criminalization, mandate no legal cannabis. Up until now, the administration has made no new assertions of the treaties.
Internationally, President Trump has gone out of his way to praise Philippine president Dutarte in his genocidal war on drugs.
As always, Trump blames Mexico for America’s drug problem and as a way to sell his border wall. He said in a recent press conference,
Tremendous drugs are pouring into the United States at levels that nobody has ever seen before. This happened over the last three to four years in particular. The wall will stop much of the drugs from pouring into this country and poisoning our youth.
4. Up the profile of key drug enforcement personnel. Restore to Cabinet-level status the position of the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and adequately fund the office so that it can be effective.
This has not been done. The drug czar still lacks cabinet status and indeed the position is filled with an interim replacement. Same with DEA, where Obama’s administrator Chuck Rosenberg remains in place. The recent opioid panel chaired by Chris Christie had little involvement with the ONDCP.
5. Rescind and replace the August 2013 memorandum from then-Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole — i.e. the “Cole Memo.” The Department of Justice could do this by reiterating that marijuana cultivation, distribution, and sale are against federal law and that while states may decriminalize possession of marijuana, they may not issue licenses to sell it or commercialize it. Reiterate that the federal government is not locking up people for smoking marijuana, and that state employees are not going to be arrested, but that the Department of Justice fully expects states to not permit commercialized marijuana production and sale.
The Cole memo remains intact. But Sessions and his army of federal prosecutors and thousands of assistant prosecutors could commit havoc in all states by seeking out violators of the memo. If legalized states were compelled by the federal government to end their regulation of marijuana, then all the controls over (and taxes gained) from legalization would vanish, leaving an unregulated marijuana marketplace.
6. Select marijuana businesses to prosecute. Find a handful of cases in which large, well-funded marijuana businesses are in violation of both state and federal marijuana laws and prosecute both their management/operators and financiers. A real threat of prosecution will raise the cost of capital in the industry significantly, and seriously impede any operations above the cottage-level. Moreover, selection of unsympathetic defendants in violation of both state and federal law will (1) minimize political pushback, (2) avoid conflict with congressional appropriations provisions, and (3) clearly demonstrate the failure of the Cole Memo.
The shoe has not dropped on selective federal prosecutions, but probably soon will. Among Session’s army of 94 US Federal Prosecutors, those in adult-legal states are doubtless salivating at the prospect of prosecuting “well-funded marijuana businesses” to satisfy their goals of easy mandatory minimums, asset forfeitures, wide-spread publicity, and, priceless, pleasing their boss Jeff Sessions.
Now anti-marijuana activist (and key Obama drug policy advisor) Kevin Sabat’s SAM organization has come out with recommendations mirroring this tactic, claiming the Cole Memo has failed and that Americans need the “protection” of a reenergized war on marijuana.
7. Rescind the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network’s guidance for banks and oppose efforts to expand banking services to the marijuana industry. One of the principal brakes on the expansion of the marijuana industry is its lack of access to banking. Once pot businesses have regular, unimpeded access to institutional capital, their ability to scale up will expand significantly—and the financial sector will begin to lobby in favor of expanded sales of the drug.
Also part of Sabet’s anti-legalization tract is the maintenance of the shunning of cannabis businesses by banks. Lack of banking access is indeed a desperate problem for the industry. Federal legislation has been introduced to fix this problem, but will likely fail.
8. Support state attorneys general in nonlegalized states. Nonlegalized states have suffered significantly from illegal diversion of marijuana from legalized states, and from the apparent uptick in sophisticated cartel activity there. Support could include entering as an amicus to support the merits of the suit Nebraska and Oklahoma filed against Colorado.
The suit by Nebraska and Oklahoma against Colorado legalization gained the enmity from many conservatives because of its raw attack on state’s rights. The Oklahoma Attorney General who participated in the suit against the rights of the voters of Colorado was none other than current EPA head Scott Pruitt. The Supreme Court ruled against the case in 2016, but left open that it might be resolved in federal court, so the danger is not over. Anti-marijuana and anti-environment zealot Pruitt said, “The fact remains — Colorado marijuana continues to flow into Oklahoma, in direct violation of federal and state law.”
9. Prosecute those dealing in marijuana — which is illegal under federal law — using the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). Those who engage in a pattern of racketeering activity through a corporation or other enterprise are liable for three times the economic harm they cause. RICO gives federal courts the power to order racketeering enterprises and their co-conspirators to cease their unlawful operations.
RICO is indeed a scary prospect, and appears to be underway. With 5,000 assistant US Attorneys needing something to do, a flood of RICO lawsuits is a nauseating possibility. The precarious status of cannabis as a Schedule I drug enables the RICO action originally written to attack the mafia. Soon it may be used to legally annihilate even small scale cannabis operation. More on this RICO peril in later posts.
10. Prosecute those who provide financing for marijuana operations. Federal anti-money laundering statutes make it illegal to engage in financial transactions designed to promote illegal activities, including drug trafficking. Start with one major marijuana financier and successfully prosecute it.
Easy prosecutions with possible asset forfeiture and favorable publicity will excite the interest of Session’s US Attorney army. The assumption is probably correct that the destruction of a few industry leaders and financiers could strike damaging blows to the industry.
11. Empower the FDA to take action to regulate marijuana in order to protect patients and the public. Marijuana legalization poses a public health problem, and the FDA should be tasked with investigating marijuana for chemical contamination and pesticides. Marijuana should also be subject to the standards of the rigorous criteria of the FDA approval process, which has been carefully constructed to protect consumer and patient health and safety.
That is, use another US bureaucracy to kill off the powerful new cannabis preventative, palliatives and cures before their momentum and public demand rise to unstoppable levels. Many reformers fear an outside FDA influence should cannabis be down-scheduled to Schedule 2. All the more reason cannabis must be removed from the Controlled Substances Act prison altogether.
In sum, these eleven coercive tactics could deliver considerable pain to cannabis consuming Americans, marijuana entrepreneurs and workers, and medical users across the country. They could also deliver political pain to the politicians supporting them as they go against the majority will to legalize marijuana, especially medical.
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Could the NBA allow players to (openly) use cannabis? It just may happen. A recent post on reddit suggests that NBA commissioner Adam Silver is at least open to the idea. When asked about medical marijuana use and the NBA, this is what Commissioner Silver had to say:
“I would say it’s something we will look at. I’m very interested in the science when it comes to medical marijuana. My personal view is that it should be regulated in the same way that other medications are if the plan is to use it for pain management. And it’s something that needs to be discussed with our Players Association, but to the extent that science demonstrates that there are effective uses for medical reasons, we’ll be open to it. Hopefully there’s not as much pain involved in our sport as some others, so there’s not as much need for it.”
There may not be as much pain in the NBA as there is in the NFL, but there is certainly wear and tear. Professional basketball players routinely push their bodies to the limits. About twelve years ago, many players decided to curtail their use of prescription anti-inflammatory drugs for fear of kidney and liver damage. Cannabis is a natural anti-inflammatory and has no real side affects, except for perhaps a pleasant buzz.
As it is now, cannabis use can get an NBA player suspended, although that wasn’t always the case. Old school fans will recall when former Celtics Center Robert Parish got busted for receiving cannabis in the mail. He didn’t miss a game.
Many former players are now looking to capitalize on the new legalization. Former Portland Trailblazer Cliff Robinson and International Cannabis Business Conference panelist and former Detroit PIston John Salley have each started cannabis based businesses. It is time for the NBA to embrace the future.
Ngaio Bealum is a writer, comedian, cannabis activist, and a decent juggler. You can catch him on the road performing at events like the Dope Show in Tacoma, Washington, and MCing the International Cannabis Business Conference. Follow him on the social medias. @ngaio420
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SB 845, among other things, would give our office the recreational marijuana forecast responsibility. While not current law yet, we went ahead and produced such a forecast for the first time in our most recent quarterly forecast. What follows below the fold is an extended summary of our forecast work, including lots of pictures, I mean charts, for those interested.
Currently the outlook for recreational marijuana sales and tax collections remains highly uncertain. While Oregon has now collected just over a year’s worth of taxes, there have been substantial changes during this time that complicate any analysis. Early start sales through medical dispensaries were taxed at a 25 percent of rate, while sales at OLCC licensed retailers are now taxed at a 17 percent rate, with the local option of adding up to 3 additional percent. Furthermore, regulatory changes, more stringent product testing requirements, and Mother Nature all impacted and reduced available supply on the market during this time.
The first chart shows monthly tax collections as reported by the Department of Revenue, with the colors representing the different state tax rates. During the transition period there were recreational sales at both medical dispensaries (taxed at 25%) and at OLCC retailers (taxed at 17%). The percentages listed are the effective tax rates after blending together sales under both regimes. These figures do not include any of the local option taxes, just the state portion.
As such, it is challenging to get a handle on the underlying trends in this newly legalized world. Thankfully, Oregon is not alone. Both Colorado and Washington are two years ahead of us. Both states have seen tremendous growth in sales and tax collections, which serves as a guide for where Oregon is likely headed in the near-term. Over time, as the market matures, future growth will follow trends in the economy and consumer spending. However the coming few years will see strong growth as the product becomes more widely available, more socially acceptable, and more black and gray market sales are realized in the legal market.
Certainly, one year’s worth of tax collections, and one set of quarterly tax returns filed by dispensaries is more valuable than no data. Our office’s forecasting responsibilities are made considerably easier than what faced those estimating the potential impact of Measure 91 (2014) which legalized recreational sales. That said, one year’s worth of data is not enough to build a full-fledged forecasting model, particularly when it is a brand new legal market. Over time, as we accumulate more data, a longer history of sales, and detailed breakdowns of consumer purchases and demographics, our office will build an econometric model. Until then, in consultation with our advisory group, and using Colorado and Washington as a guide, our office is relying on trends for the short-term outlook.
In terms of sales, Oregon’s first year closely tracks Colorado’s first year and outpaces Washington’s. The numbers in the graph below are estimated sales figures based on actual tax collections. Both Colorado and Washington are larger states than Oregon, so we adjust their figures based on the relative size of the adult population.
There are at least four main reasons for this pattern:
First, marijuana usage rates from surveys indicate a larger share of Oregonians have used marijuana in the past month than what is reported in Washington. As such, Oregon is more likely to see larger sales than Washington, after adjusting for population size. However, usage is not the only measure that matters, as Colorado’s usage rates are even higher than Oregon’s. Note that these national health surveys are based on responses prior to recreational legalization.
Second, prices and taxes matter. Oregon has a significantly lower tax rate than does Washington, which helps keep final consumer prices lower. Furthermore, the first set of quarterly tax returns, a very limited data set, indicates that Oregon prices were very competitive with Washington prices, even though Washington had two additional years to get accustomed to the newly legal market, license growers, processors and the like. A lower retail price, everything else equal, should bring more consumers and more black market conversions.
Third, the cross-border effect with legal sales beginning earlier in Washington likely had an impact on Oregon’s first year of sales. Counties in southwest Washington saw sales fall by nearly 40 percent once Oregon’s early sales began. Clearly there was plenty of cross-border activity. Effectively this meant Oregon had somewhat of a built-in customer base who were used to purchasing in the legal market. Thus Oregon’s initial sales were larger than in Washington, but this may have some to do with social acceptance and being used to the new system rather than fundamentally stronger sales.
Fourth, both Colorado and Washington initially had relatively few retail outlets in major population centers. In Colorado, Denver had retailers but Boulder did not initially. In Washington, Seattle had only a few retailers at first, but have added quite a few in recent years. As such, some of each state’s strong growth in the first two years was simply due to market access and product availability, particularly in places where lots of people live. It is unlikely this is a similar issue in Oregon, with our major population centers having dispensaries at first, and retailers now. Not that Oregon is overstored, or that there cannot be more room for growth – Colorado, for example, has considerably more retailers even after adjusting for their larger population – however lack of consumer access does not appear to be a major issue in Oregon today for much of the population.
In terms of the outlook, Oregon is poised for strong growth in the coming years. However, given the above and the advice from our advisory group, our office is not forecasting revenues to be quite as strong as those seen in Colorado over their second and third years.
This outlook remains highly uncertain with substantial upside and downside risks.
On the downside, supply constraints that keep products and inventory low will result in fewer sales, and tax collections. Such constraints could be regulatory changes that impact grower, processors or retailers, or regulatory bottlenecks where companies in the industry are unable to get their licenses, renewals or tests completed or approved in a timely manner. Another downside risk for tax collections are prices, given Oregon levies the tax based on the sales price. To date in Colorado and Washington, prices have fallen around 20 percent per year. Marijuana is a commodity and eventually will be commoditized. How far and how quickly prices decline is a considerable risk to the outlook for tax collections. Offsetting this risk somewhat is the fact that lower prices should result in larger sales, helping to buoy tax collections overall, which is what has happened in both Colorado and Washington so far. Finally, the one risk that looms large over the entire forecast is the federal government. While there has been no clear warning or action taken, there is a non-zero chance the federal government could step in and eliminate, or severely restrict recreational marijuana sales. In this event, taxes collected would be considerably less than forecasted.
On the upside, consumers overall could get more comfortable with legalized recreational marijuana sales, and the industry gains broader social acceptance, resulting in larger sales. Furthermore, a faster rate of black market conversion would also result in more legal sales. Similarly, conversions from the medical marijuana market to the recreational market would result in more sales and taxes collections. The impact of the seed-to-sale tracking system may also increase activity within the legal market and restrict the flow of product into the black market.
While the sales and tax collection outlook is uncertain, it is also fairly straightforward. The same cannot be said for distributing the taxes, or at least not yet. Currently there have been no distributions from the collected recreational marijuana taxes and there are likely to be none in the current biennium. Start-up costs to OLCC and other state programs need to be repaid first, with only the net revenues after accounting for these costs available for transfer to recipient programs like schools, state police, city and county law enforcement and the like. The exact reimbursement figures will be finalized in the coming months, with the first tax distributions made early in the 2017-19 biennium.
The process and timing for future tax distributions is as follows. First, retailers pay taxes on a monthly basis. These are the figures reported periodically in the media and other outlets. However these taxes are not immediately available for distribution. They only become available for recipient programs once the Department of Revenue has received and processed a retailer’s quarterly tax return. This ensures transfers are made based on the correct, not estimated, taxes paid by retailers. As such there is a time lag of between one and two quarters from when taxes are initially paid to the Department of Revenue and when they are available to transfer to programs. This discrepancy is likely to shorten some in the future as retailers file their taxes in a timelier manner, however the time lag will not be eliminated entirely. The chart below tries to show the lag between the tax collections paid on a monthly basis and when they become available for distribution.
Given no distributions will be made in the current 2015-17 biennium, the accumulated revenues are carried forward into 2017-19 and will be distributed then. Again, note that the Tax Revenues reported in our office’s forecast tables represent the amount available for distribution. Currently there is approximately $78 million in tax collections at the Department of Revenue, with the total 2015-17 figured forecasted to be nearly $90 million. However, as our table shows, under normal circumstances where we do not have to worry about start-up costs being repaid first, only about $67 million of the $90 million would be available for distribution in the 2015-17 biennium. This time lag between monthly collections and quarterly tax returns is a big deal in the budget world and can be a bit confusing. At least for me it was at first when trying to wrap my head around when monies will be distributed.
The above is what our office worked on and published in our latest quarterly forecast. However, some of the costs and revenue distributions will change (or have already changed) based on legislation. For example, the same SB 845 that gives our office the forecasting responsibilities also changes to the revenue distributions. Also, SB 1057 impacts the administrative cost estimates. Additional bills remain alive in the legislative process. Our office, with the help of other agencies and legislative staff, will update the forecast as bills become law. Check back in August when we release our next forecast for all the details.
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Hybrid Origins: Mazar x Skunk #1 Flowering: 55-65 days
It doesn’t take a detective to figure out how LSD got its name. This variety lets marijuanas freak flag fly, bringing out pot’s most psychedelic qualities. The Mazar parent is a strain that was probably known by name a decade ago, when it was newer to the scene. Mazar has often been compared with the better known White Widow for the cimilarities in plant and bud structure and effects. Both strains are indica–sativa hybrids, although Mazar is more indica heavy, as suggested by the name, which references the presence of Afghani in the parentage and comes from the name af Afghanistan’s fourth largest city, Mazar-e-Sharif.
Barney’s Farm Seed Bank used these long established genetics in combination with the versatile Skunk #1 to create the LSD variety. These parents have passed along many of their strengths. LSD is a hardy, disease-resistant plant that thrives in nearly all reasonable growing conditions. These plants stay light to medium green with leaves that split the difference between sativa and indica thickness. Flowering takes 8 to 9 weeks. At first the LSD plant may seem dense with foliage, but the buds soon outshine the vegetation. LSD buds form slightly curved corkscrew triangles with large stacked calyxes and a profusion of burnished hairs. While plants remain fairly compact and can be staked or grown successfully in a sea of green, LSD also delivers satisfying yields as a multi-branch plant, often reaching 600 grams per square meter. When grown outdoors, LSD plants finish in mid-September.
The LSD flavor mixes a slightly nutty and earthy palate with a dank sweet muskiness. Best of all, LSD lives up to its name, delivering a vivid, euphoric experience that stands out from the typical indica stone. While the body high has depth, the strongest sensation is the super trippy psychedelia that will blow the cobwebs out of the corners of your mind. This strain is great in a stimulating environment. Music, food, and colorful imagery will all be enhanced under its influence. However, overindulgence or overly hectic situations may cause a sense of being overwhelmed so it can be good to stay somewhere that also offers a sense of comfort and safety. Medical users have recommended this strain for nausea, anxiety, depression, and headaches.
Aroma– 8:40 Juicy citrus scent mixed with slight herbal flowers, ammonia strong
Flavor– 8:42 a little harsh, I think we will trek down to Jambo today and fix that by buying a bong.
8:43 Here we go….. The dryer going sounds are great, I just want to go in and fold some clothes now. Seems like a perfect idea. Now I am talking to my Mate. Going pretty good at this point he can pick whatever he wants on TV. I am in my evolving bliss 8:45. We are just talking it up and laughing.
10:45- ok so quickly I lost myself, and I had so many thoughts to share. I just skipped it. Let me tell you though…I think I am brilliant. I have so much inspiration tonight!!! If I could only remember all the plans I made. If I had only written it down like my man suggested. I think I may need to remember the recording device going forward.
Next Day Sunday 10pm Impromptu visit from my daughter and her Mate. They want to watch a movie so lets give this another try- Ok so they want to make a gravity bong or Shuttle bong thingy. Whoa this is awesome. It hasn’t changed a spec!!! Makes it a lot smoother but oh my god I took the biggest hit ever and pretty sure I am going to be trashed. Now we are watching Taledega nights. Ok Non-stop laughing almost borderline crazy giggling. This movie is so wrong. It is dumb humor and I am loving it.
Now I am up watching movies by myself. Oh god its 3 am and I can’t sleep. I can’t get comfortable and I can’t shut off my brain. Woke up having very scary nightmares all night long. I woke up screaming at one point. My daughter reports the same thing. Oh and this is important. No appetite.
Overall impression: This one is all over the place, really fun and lots of laughter but throw a cry in there and frost it with sleeplessness and scary dreams. This one best served with close friends and a fun activity. Score: 3.75
Relationship status: Quite charming. It’s a fun whirlwind and I am really caught up but my heart feels hollow and I am not sure we will last forever. It’s not true love and sometimes it makes me really sad.
Pot – ittude Adjustment
I decided to write a story about weed, or lack thereof. I am working out of town away from all my comforts. Now, I should let you know, I don’t smoke pot all that much. Compared to the old me I am a complete stoner but compared to real pot smokers my habit is laughable.
So here I am at the end of the day and all I can think about is how nice it would be to rip a giant hit and release myself from stress, worry and the general BS I have to face at work right now. Yes, one hit does it for me. I know, I know, lucky!!!!
Does this mean I am trying to escape from my problems? I think not my friends. I have found that pot helps me forget temporarily, lowers my heart rate and allows me to just wallow in my own fantasy world. Who wouldn’t want to drift off into lah-lah land when they have to get up and do it again tomorrow?
Is this the same as trying to forget your problems by drinking yourself into a stupor? Some of you might think so but I call Bullshit. Drinking just makes you not care, become non- productive and gives you an overall numb sensation, I have no problems, feeling. It also can make you think you are tougher than you are, really good looking, super extra smart and megaphone loud. Oh let’s not forget the poor decision making, behaving outside of your character and the long list of “oh god did I really do that last night. Oh and to top it off…that shit ends up on Facebook. I don’t want to give you the impression that I don’t drink. I do and sometimes I think I am a real wino. But on this occasion I just want what my little weed friend can offer. Pure Bliss.
Sooooo, where can I find pot? Let’s see; 1. It’s not legal here. 2. I don’t know anyone to ask. 3. I have no pipe or bong. 3. I have never tried to buy pot from a stranger. I think I will just have to suffer…
What this makes me really think about is how dumb it is that we are unable to bring our supplies with us when we travel. It seems so ludicrous to me that people can bring a suitcase full of prescriptions drugs that they can legally abuse from state to state or country to country, on a plane, train, boat with no hassle. I can even get completely wasted on a plane, sometimes it is even complimentary. I could pop 5 valium and a couple ADHD pills and get on with my bad self.
Someday I hope they have a ‘Flying High Airlines’. Flight staff will wear tie-dye, offer CBD oil, play relaxing music, have groovy snacks and be super friendly. The airport will have a VIP Stoner section for long layovers with comfy places to lie about with soft streaming music.
The other folks can just keep flying on ‘Oh God Please Help Me Airlines’ with the screaming child, the bad coffee, stupid snacks, and weird baggage rules. Those airports will continue to make sure that we are as uncomfortable as possible during lay overs. You have to drink to be able to tolerate how awful it is. Hey? Which airline and airport do you think would be more popular?
So back to the quest for pot.
As it turns out, a colleague of mine that happened to be working in the same location as me was a little bolder than I could be and actually got hooked up be his taxi driver. Ha ha ha that cracks me up. Ask the taxi driver, they know where the weed is? Who knew? So she offered me some. I turned it down. As it turns out I am so worried about doing a good job while I am here that the sensible side of me says “if you want to be sharp tomorrow don’t get baked” which for me is one hit.
Yes, I will admit that even I know that moderation is the key to being a responsible stoner. If I went out and had a few shots of tequila the night before a big day, it would be an awful, long, painful day to remember. Pot works the same way for me so I choose to be responsible and decline her generous offer.
So I head home on Friday. I board my flight and after settling in and getting out my crossword puzzle I hear a baby crying a few seats ahead of me. Oh great this will be an amazing flight. You know it. The baby is fussing the entire flight and I am ready to poke my own eye out by the time we land. So I drink a couple shots of Jameson and try to melt into my uncomfortable, yet better than nothing, oblivion.
Well folks, let me tell you a little something about lessons learned in life. I am so caught up in my own boo hoo hoo this trip, no weed, tiresome work, alone out town, boredom, and then this crazy cranky baby on the trip home that I forget I am not the only person on the planet. I get to Seattle to await my next flight and my friend who happened to be sitting directly behind the screaming babe and her parents meets me at the next gate. I lament over my woes and talk about how much I just want to get home and “God how I hate disruptive and bratty children” blah blah blah. So she tells me that the baby has cancer and her parents are just hoping she survives the treatment etc. Yep, I am an asshole. Enough said.
Sometimes these things happen to us to wake us up I think and help us remember that we need to leave our bubble and connect with the humans around us. Instead of complaining and being negative we could actually step off our platform and lend a hand, an ear or a shoulder to a stranger that has it far worse than us. Perhaps stop bitching about the frivolous nit-picky BS that plagues us? Ok, so perception now is reset and I am even more anxious to get home to my personal bliss.
I get home and all settled in and there is my lovely blue glass friend waiting with open arms ready to forgive all my transgressions. I have to say, I love this part. I know that within aprox. 45 seconds after inhaling this green little paradise I will slip into happy, all my cares will melt away and all that is important will become clear. It does, as expected. Thank you Pot Gods for your generosity. I am finally sated.
What have I learned? Pot? Yep still great, find something every day to be grateful about and stop being a giant jerk.