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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.

Credit Wikimedia

They say the money would be well below that, at just over $9 million.

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2014 Northwest News Network

Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.