Oregon Marijuana Tax Revenue Estimate Higher Than First Forecast

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If Oregon voters decide to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana, the state estimates that it will take in up to $40 million a year, much more than originally estimated.

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The statement, finalized on Monday, was prepared by the Oregon state financial estimate committee, which includes the Oregon's Secretary of State, the State Treasurer, the Department of Administrative Services director and the Department of Revenue director.

At the high end, the new estimate is greater than the amount forecast by ECONorthwest and by Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron. However, economists agree that new markets are hard to predict. The state's final estimate presents a range of possibilities, with $17 million at the low end. That's $1 million more than projected in the first draft of the fiscal impact statement.

"Right now under the current black market approach to marijuana, we're sending millions of dollars to dealers and to violent drug cartels," said Dan Mahr, campaign manager for Yes on 91, the campaign previously known as New Approach Oregon. "But if Oregon legalizes, regulates and taxes marijuana for adults 21 and older, the sales would instead generate tens of millions of new funding for essential public services."

The state's impact statement doesn't estimate law enforcement and judicial savings from a decrease in marijuana cases. In Washington, court filings for marijuana cases plummeted from 5,531 in 2012, when marijuana was illegal, to 120 , in 2013, when it became legal. Colorado saw a similar decrease. In Oregon, marijuana arrests and citations are on the rise.

The statement also does not estimate the increase in payroll taxes from new jobs created, but Colorado has seen a small boom in industry jobs and Washington has seen a number of new stores open up.

Under the "Control, Regulation, and Taxation of Marijuana and Industrial Hemp Act," which Oregon voters will consider in November, 40 percent of the tax revenue collected would go to schools; 35 percent would go to state and local police; and 25 percent would go to drug treatment, prevention and mental health programs.

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