When one compares the recreational marijuana regulations and provisions in Colorado to Washington, it’s pretty clear that Colorado has the better system. For evidence of that, consider the end result to the consumer. The prices in Washington are significantly higher for recreational marijuana compared to Colorado. I have long stated that unless the prices for legal marijuana are relatively close (or preferably cheaper) than the black market, the black market will never fully go away. That is a point that former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson agrees with. Per Oregon Live:
“They have taxed it to the level where if you are a prior user of marijuana, prior to it being legal in Washington, you are still consuming it on the black market because of how expensive it is. It’s the worst-case scenario and they have it playing out in Washington State,” Johnson said.
Johnson advised future states, including Oregon and Alaska, to “forget about tax revenue” and focus on other benefits of legalization.
“The tax revenue from marijuana gets dwarfed by the savings in law enforcement, the courts and prisons. You are moving the entire industry from a black market.” Johnson continued, “If there were no tax revenue at all we would be way, way ahead because of all of those other things.”
I’m curious to see how Oregon’s roll out of recreational marijuana affects Washington State. It’s going to be hard to justify $19 per gram in Washington when it’s being sold on the other side of the Columbia River for an estimated $5 per gram. Washington’s legal recreational marijuana industry will never reach its full potential with such high prices.