Recreational Marijuana Sales (Graph of the Week)


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.

Tickets and Tragedies: The News Week in Review


We live in confusing times. Every day we encounter events that bring joy, humor, tragedy, and heartbreak. Sometimes those events are welcomed. Other times they make us want to curl into the fetal position and wish the world would just disappear. This week was no exception to the rule. We are reminded once again how much hope and strength is needed and to not take even the small things for granted.

Small things like who we are and where we live. For most, those things seem small. But for some, like Miss Oregon, where one lives can make all the difference. “Rachel Berry will not be able to compete in the Miss America pageant next year. She was selected as Miss Oregon last month. Pageant director Dana Phillips says Berry couldn’t prove she’d lived in Oregon for six months before competing in the Miss Willamette Valley pageant in April.” [1]

Some might say knowing where you live is basic education. But even education these days is up in the air, as a new bill in Oregon pushes to give more independence to universities. “The first draft of a bill to give some universities more independence from the statewide university system would prohibit them from raising in-state undergraduate tuition more than 5 percent a year. The legislation, which is in a very early stage, has been drafted in response to demands by some universities for more autonomy over their own operations. The debate was intensified when former University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere was fired in part for charting his own course in conflict with the statewide board.” [2]

For many, former President Richard Lariverve’s firing came as a surprise. Another surprise this week, though, came to residents of Lane County, when the McDonald Theatre announced the following on their Facebook page: “SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Secret show just announced for comedian DAVE CHAPPELLE at McDonald Theatre THIS SUNDAY AT 9pm!!” [3]

It was no surprise, on the other hand, that the Chappelle surprise show sold out. “Tickets went on sale at 6 p.m. Friday and all 750 at $50 each were gone within a half-hour, McDonald owner Kit Kesey said Friday night. ‘This is the quickest we’ve ever sold a show out,’ he said.” [4]

The Chappelle show was not the only event to sell out. “Mount St. Helens has become one of the most popular destinations for hikers in Washington state…Every $22 permit to climb Mount St. Helens is sold out through mid-September.” [5]

Not every event, though, sells out that quickly. The Eugene Celebration, for example, just opened up their sales and has not sold out yet. “A look ahead to next month, tickets for the 30th annual Eugene Celebration are on sale now. You can buy them at TicketsWest, the UO Bookstore and other locations. They cost $10 in advance for all three days or $15 at the gate. Kids 12 and younger get in free. Proceeds benefit Habitat for Humanity. Eugene Celebration is August 24-26.” [6]

Residents of Lane County are familiar with the Celebration’s happenings, with live bands and arts and, of course, the yearly display of public nudity. But, while there is always the usual display of public nudity at the Celebration, this nudity does not present itself as political speech, unlike a man who stripped naked at the Portland airport to protest TSA requirements.

“A man arrested after he stripped naked at Portland International Airport (PDX) was found not guilty of public indecency at a trial Wednesday. John Brennan, a frequent-flying businessman from Portland, set off an explosives wand in April and stripped naked to show Transportation Security Administration screeners he was not carrying a bomb…A judge found Brennan not guilty of public indecency on the grounds that he stripped naked as a form of protest, which is protected speech.”  [7]

While Brennan getting naked in front of the TSA is certainly an event, it is probably not an event people will buy tickets for any time soon. The same goes for the absurdist act — artistic or otherwise — of shooting one’s own TV while drinking.

Police in Salem, Ore., say a man who had been entertaining himself and his dog with a laser scope on his gun finally pointed it at his TV and pulled the trigger — forgetting the gun was loaded. Police spokesman Steve Birr tells KATU-TV the bullet went through a wall into an adjacent home where five people were present. No one was hurt but one of them called police late Saturday night. Police say the man apparently had been drinking.” [8]

While that Salem man’s neighbors were fortunately unharmed, the brother-in-law of a Eugene spiritual healer was not so lucky. “A spiritual healer from Eugene was sentenced to prison on Friday for using a baseball bat to fatally bludgeon his brother-in-law in the victim’s Reno, Nev., home in April 2010. Timothy Wayne Morgan, 27, could serve up to 33 years in a Nevada state prison in connection with the death of Eric Dee Preimesberger.” [9]

The state of Oregon could use its own healer, though admittedly not one armed with a baseball bat, now that Governor Kitzhaber has declared a state of emergency due to wildfires in Oregon. “Gov. John Kitzhaber has declared a state of emergency in response to wildfires that have burned more than 1,100 square miles in southeastern Oregon. Kitzhaber signed an executive order Tuesday directing state agencies to assist affected landowners and seek federal disaster assistance.” [10]

The most significant emergency this week, though, has been the hearbreaking shooting in Colorado during the opening of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Rises film. The event has transfixed the attention of this nation. “The 2012 Aurora shooting happened on July 20, 2012, when a gunman opened fire during the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises in a Cinemark movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, killing 12 people and injuring 58 others. The suspected gunman, later identified as James Eagan Holmes and believed to be acting alone, entered the theater dressed in protective clothing, set off smoke or gas canisters, then shot the audience with multiple firearms. The attack was the largest ever mass shooting in the United States in terms of casualties.” [11]

The lives of so many people have been changed forever, and their pain has echoed around the country. Nolan, the director of Dark Knight Rises, issued a statement on the tragedy: “The movie theatre is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me. Nothing any of us can say could ever adequately express our feelings for the innocent victims of this appalling crime, but our thoughts are with them and their families.” [12]

May the dead rest in peace, and may the living continue to heal and find strength.

Thinking As I Go Along…


By Sam Finley, EDN

Bet you didn’t see that one coming on Saturday, did you?  Oh, not that the Ducks would beat Nevada.  I think everyone thought it would be a mismatch, and most had Oregon scoring anywhere from 40 to 50 points.  But a 69-20 victory over the Wolf Pack?  No, that was a little more than I expected.

Oregon running backs coach Gary Campbell has developed a lot of great Ducks since 1983 (Photo Credit: Eric Evans)

Then again, while I thought Darron Thomas would have a better passing game than he did against LSU, I didn’t see him tying a school record with six touchdown passes in one game. That’s why I’ll go out on a limb and say he’ll have a chance to break that record this weekend.  Here’s my prediction:  Oregon 72, Missouri State 10.

Now that I’ve gotten my Saturday prediction out of the way, I have to say I’m still impressed by what I saw from another DT: De’Anthony Thomas.  Let me be clear: I knew he’d be a special player, and I wrote off his two fumbles against LSU as freshman growing pains.

That being said, his putting up around 200 yards of total offense so soon against anyone is a worthy feat.  There’s no question which running back will be getting the handoffs when LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner need a breather.  

Then again, maybe I shouldn’t be so shocked about De’Anthony’s big day. He is, after all, under the tutelage of running backs coach Gary Campbell.  He hasn’t really developed THAT many good backs since 1983. No, aside from Reuben Mayes,Derek Loville, Maurice Morris, Onterrio Smithp, Jonathan Stewart, and LaMichael James (just to name a handful), Campbell has been average at best.

In all seriousness, Gary Campbell has worked wonders as a long time member of the Oregon coaching staff, and is a classy guy to boot.  Hmmm, maybe I should do a profile piece for EDN on him in the near future?  I’ll have to take it up with the sports editor.  But he’s a nice guy who I know better than anyone else, so maybe I can make it happen.

Staying on the topic of Oregon assistants, and I don’t mean to shamelessly self-promote in my column, but you really should check out the fall issue of Eugene Magazine.  I have a short piece about Oregon wide receivers coach Scott Frost, and it’s all about his time at Nebraska and in the NFL, as well as what he likes about working at the U of O.

Moving onto other things, did anyone see Serena Williams’ tasteless behavior at the U.S. Open on Sunday?  That she tried to get away with a distractive shout before Sam Stosur had the chance to hit the ball is despicable by itself.  If she was a young tennis pro playing her first major event, it would be one thing.  Unfortunately, Serena has played long enough to know that kind of tact just doesn’t cut it.

However, continually berating the official after you’ve been (and correctly I might add) penalized a game point is way out of line.  I’m disappointed that the USTA only fined her $2,000 for the shenanigans, but I’m glad that Stosur won.  While Williams whined and moaned, Stosur kept her mouth shut and let her tennis racket do the talking.  Sometimes, good things happen to the right people in the end.

Oregon wide receivers coach Scott Frost is subject of a Eugene Magazine article written by yours truly. (Photo Credit: Eric Evans)

Speaking of the end, maybe it’s time if you’re a Dallas Cowboys’ fan (and thankfully, I’m not) to understand that Tony Romo is not going to hack it as a big-time quarterback.  I had a little chat with a buddy of mine after Dallas built a 24-10 lead against the New York Jets on Sunday night.  My exact words to him were to wait and see: the Cowboys were going to turnover the ball once or twice, and Romo was going to be the guilty culprit.

Moments after I made that statement, Romo fumbled the ball at the Jets’ one yard line.  If he holds on, the ‘Boys probably get at least a field goal and leave New Jersey with a win.  Instead, his botched ball gave the Jets new life, and they found a way to tie it up late.

Then, in the final minute, Tony Romo decided to make up for that mistake by throwing a ball in the same direction as Jets’ cornerback Darrelle Revis.  Everyone, including the ball boy knows that Revis might be the best DB in the NFL right now, and you don’t take that risk.  Why?  Because he’ll likely intercept your pass, and that’s exactly what happened.

It’s also why the Jets won 27-24 on a field goal shortly after Revis’ pick.  If I were a Cowboys’ fan, I’d be calling on owner Jerry Jones to get rid of him after all these choke jobs he’s pulled the last few years.  But again, I’m not, so I guess he’s Dallas’ problem.

My problem right now is I have a lot more to say, but not enough time to write it in.  Maybe that’s why the good folks at EDN let me do this on a weekly basis.  But check out my usual profile piece on Friday.  I, tenatively, have a fascinating piece about a certain member of the Oregon offensive line.  Should be a good read.

In the meantime, I’ll see you in the bleachers.

Sam Finley has been the EDN sports editor since June 2011.  You can e-mail your feedback to him at [email protected]


A New Challenge Looms For The Ducks


By Sam Finley, EDN

The number four can represent many things.  In a positive light, it cen be seen as the insignia on the Fantastic Four’s costumes.  But if you’re a Duck fan, then you’re not even thinking about it in comic book terms.

No, in this case, it is the number of turnovers committed by Oregon in their 40-27 loss against LSU this past weekend.  It is one of many reasons why the Ducks fell face first on a national stage in Dallas, Texas.

Against anyone, sloppy ball handling will hurt your team’s chances of winning.  Against an SEC team like LSU, you will seal your team’s fate, particularly when you give them the ball on your 20 yard line.

Take away the turnovers, and Oregon could’ve won.  Yes, LSU’s larger offensive and defensive lines played a role in the outcome. So did their running back Spencer Ware.

And yes, I’m being mindful of the fact that the Ducks were playing a lot of younger guys for the first time.  Guys, like De’Anthony Thomas (who fumbled twice) who will learn from their trial by fire and become Oregon players you will remember for years to come.  They also could have used Cliff Harris in the secondary on Saturday.

That being said, this team has plenty to play for.  I still think they’ll win their third consecutive conference title, and will play in a BCS bowl game. (Though going back to the National Championship Game is going to be a reach, so you’re likely going to have to “settle” for Pasadena this time).

But, as Ross Perot used to say, here’s the deal:  While there is no question that the Ducks have established themselves as the college football power in the Northwest, as well as one of the top three teams in the Pac-12, there is a new challenge facing Chip Kelly & Company.  Specifically, Oregon must win a game against a ranked non-conference opponent and it must be away from Autzen Stadium.

We know what the Ducks can do there, and would probably win against any national power handily with LaMichael James running for well over 150 yards (instead of the meager 54 he got on Saturday).

However, if you want Oregon to be truly recognized as one of the nation’s elite teams, then they have to go to a neutral site or a highly-ranked opponent’s venue and come out on top.  That, with all they’ve accomplished in recent years, is something they have yet to do.

If you don’t think it’s that big of a deal, consider that this is the fourth time in the past three seasons where they’ve failed to defeat a top opponent outside of Eugene.  They didn’t do it in Boise two years ago.  They also stumbled in the Rose Bowl against Ohio State in 2010, and came up painfully short against Auburn in the BCS title match in January.  The setback against LSU has effectively established a trend.

Until the Ducks can win a game like the ones mentioned above, then Oregon will be known as merely a very good team that is worthy of being ranked in the top ten every year.  They won’t, however, be seriously considered as one you can talk about as one of the great programs on the national landscape.

If they can win their conference as predicted, they’ll have their shot at national redemption come January in the Rose Bowl.  In the meantime, let’s briefly talk about some other items.

As stated earlier, Oregon does have plenty to play for, and beating Nevada this weekend would be a great start for them to make a quick turnaround.  The Wolf Pack may have lost a lot of starters from last year’s 13-1 team to the NFL, but you can’t overlook them.  

Somehow I don’t think, especially after the LSU debacle, that the Ducks will take anyone for granted. Nevada picked the wrong week to come to Autzen, and it could be a long day for them.  Here’s my guess on this one:  Oregon 42, Nevada 17.

Now then, some people have said that LaMichael’s performance in the first week cost him any shot at the Heisman Trophy this year.  Let’s put it this way:  He’s definitely not one of the top five guys you’d consider for the award at this moment.  But, despite his very average-looking perfomance against the Tigers,  he still became Oregon’s all-time leading rusher.

LaMichael James established himself as Oregon's all-time leading rusher during the loss against LSU. (Photo Credit: Eric Evans)

If he can run off a string of games of 100 yards or more and has a huge game against Stanford late in the year, then you can’t pound the nails in the Heisman coffin just yet.  On the flip side, I wouldn’t be planning a trip to New York for the awards presentation, either.

I would, however, plan on letting you all know what’s on tap for the upcoming months.  We will be expanding this sports page into a bunch of areas, and it will become something people in Eugene haven’t seen before.  You’ll start seeing some of new features within the next couple of weeks.

In the meantime, look for a wrap-up on the Ems’ first round NWL playoff series this week.  And on Friday, there will be a piece about Oregon’s receivers you might want to check out.  I guess I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the game previews that will be coming on a weekly basis, too.

Until then, I’ll see you in the bleachers.

Sam Finley has been the EDN sports editor since June 2011.  He welcomes your feedback at [email protected]


Chip Kelly Post LSU Press

from the pre-Nevada, post-LSU press conference:

Chip Kelly: “I thought our defense played well on Saturday, our offense did not put them in good situations. To hold an LSU and SCC team under 300 yards of offense; I think they had 270 total…they came away with 20 points from turnovers. The one positive coming out of Saturday’s was how well our Defense played.”

“The big thing [everyone forgets] is the other team, it’s not all about our preparation; when we lose a football game everybody wants to know what’s wrong with us and never really gives credit to the other football team; I’d give alot of credit to what LSU did.”

Video – Rick Morgan for EDN