When most people think of a cannabis-friendly locale in the beautiful state of Oregon, most people probably think about the weird city of Portland, where I’m happy to call home. Or, if they are familiar with the area, maybe they would point to the college town of Eugene or quirky, little Ashland. Baker County, with a population under 17,000, probably doesn’t come to mind, but the municipality is racking up cannabis sales at an amazing rate that equals $960 per resident. Now in sheer size, Multnomah County, home of Portland and by far the biggest county in the state, naturally reigns supreme, totaling over $175,000,000 in retail sales in 2017, compared to Baker’s $16,077,782, but per capita, Baker’s $960 per resident dwarfs Multnomah’s $220.
What is driving Baker County’s big per capita sales? One word: Idaho. The town of Huntington has been reaping financial benefits due to Idaho’s prohibition, as the Idaho Statesman reported:
“A lot of times they have to hang around quite awhile,” City Councilman Chuck Guerri said. “When (the dispensaries) are really busy, it’s two, two-and-a-half hours before (customers) get their product. So they mingle and they go to the store. They sit and have a hamburger or something. And all that helps. Every little bit of it helps when you’re a small town.”
City Hall might reap enough tax money from marijuana and related sales to double the city’s $200,000 budget.
And besides the city’s own marijuana tax money, Huntington stands to receive some money from the state. Oregon allocates 10 percent of the money it takes in from a 17 percent tax on marijuana sales to law enforcement initiatives in cities and counties, Department of Revenue spokeswoman Joy Krawczyk said.
Fortunately for cannabis tourists traveling back to the Gem State, police aren’t making a big point of targeting them, as Idaho State Police spokesperson Tim Marsano told the Idaho Statesman, “The fact that our neighboring states have legalized what is illegal in Idaho doesn’t mean we’re going to go ahead and profile.”
Tourists’ dollars have also been a factor in helping both coastal counties Curry and Lincoln outpace Multnomah, while Tillamook and Clatsop aren’t far behind. As Oregon will experience a budget crisis for the next 15 to 20 years due to the state’s Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) of the 1970s and 80s, as recently detailed in The New York Times, the Beaver State needs to continue increasing revenue.
Cannabis tourism is one way to generate more money, and Portland officials are doing a good job promoting the issue, but the rest of the state needs to get on board. Hopefully, licensed cannabis cafes and lounges will be established in the near future, providing Idahoans, and other tourists enjoying Oregon a reason to hang around a little while longer and spend a little more green.
Learn more about Oregon’s cannabis industry, and marijuana markets across the world, at the upcoming International Cannabis Business Conference in Portland, Oregon, this September 27th-28th. In addition to important information, the ICBC provides the best networking opportunities of any cannabis event. Get your tickets by September 12th to save $200!