The drafters of Oregon’s ballot measure legalizing recreational marijuana were determined to design a system that would avoid some of the troubles that have plagued Washington’s retail pot market.
Oregon votes on legal recreational marijuana on Tuesday. If Measure 91 passes, Oregon recreational marijuana industry will be different from Washington in a couple of key respects, notably lower taxes. Advocates sought cheaper taxes to lure consumers from the state’s thriving black market for pot.
That raises a important question: What would legal marijuana in Oregon mean for Washington?
Hunter Stuart, a Huffington Post writer, explores the issue, writing that the “predicament underscores the growing pains legalization advocates and policymakers face in figuring out the best ways to tax and regulate the drug from state to state.”
The problem could be especially difficult for Vancouver marijuana shops, Stuart writes.
Brian Budz, who co-owns a retail marijuana store called New Vansterdam in Vancouver, Washington, said he’s worried that if Oregon passes a law permitting recreational pot stores to open, he could go out of business.
“It’s absolutely a concern, yes,” Budz told HuffPost. His business is forced to pay a 25 percent excise tax when they buy weed wholesale from a grower and another 25 percent fee when they sell to the customer, Budz said. “And that doesn’t include the federal taxes, or the fact that because we’re selling a Schedule I drug, we can’t write anything off. So we’re getting blasted from all angles.”
In Oregon, the proposed law would “make it easier for retailers to breathe and make a profit,” because the taxes are so much lower, Budz said.
— Noelle Crombie