Marijuana Tax Revenue
6:03 pm
Wed July 30, 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. The question is going before voters this fall.

Oregon’s legalized marijuana campaign says pot would generate about $39 million in tax revenue in its first year.
Oregon’s legalized marijuana campaign says pot would generate about $39 million in tax revenue in its first year.
Credit Mark / Flickr

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

"We could tax it to fund schools and health care," the ad said.

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 is the chief petitioner of Oregon's pot initiative. He’s not phased.

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

With Initiative 53 going before voters this fall, Johnson says 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.

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