After selling just under $800 million in cannabis products in 2019, Oregon has followed up with a record year of marijuana sales.
Oregon’s Record Year in Cannabis
For years, Oregon has been ahead of the curve when it comes to marijuana use in the United States. In 1973 it became the first state to decriminalize, in 1998 it became one of the first five states to pass a medical cannabis initiative, and just last year Oregon was ranked fourth in the U.S. in marijuana-industry jobs, only trailing California, Colorado, and Washington.
Even with that, a near 40% increase in total marijuana sales from 2019 to 2020 is astonishing progress for Oregon’s legal cannabis market. The major growth started when the reality of COVID-19 began to settle with Oregon residents. Like many major marijuana markets across the United States, cannabis sales in Oregon shot sky high in March, with sales increasing by $15 million from the previous month. That trend continued into summer, as May marked the first month that the state sold over $100 million worth of marijuana products – a feat that was repeated the following three months. When it was all said and done, monthly sales didn’t drop below $89.9 million for the remainder of the year, with the market peaking at $106.6 million in July. At the close of 2020, total Oregon cannabis sales are projected at $1,110,520,723, according to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC).
Those numbers are great news for Oregon’s counties. The Business Journal’s breakdown of the figures show that every county except for two experienced significant growth in their marijuana sales, with Malheur County coming out on top with $91.7 million total. This is nearly all due to the city of Ontario, Oregon lifting their sales ban back in late 2018. Despite the county only accounting for 0.7% of the state’s population, it accounts for more than 8% of the state’s total cannabis sales – likely because it’s less than an hour drive from Idaho, a prohibition state. As a result, Ontario’s usual annual fund budget of $10 million will be added to with over $2.5 million of cannabis tax revenue.
Marijuana Sales in Oregon: A Breakdown
|MONTH (2020)||TOTAL MARIJUANA SALES|
Will Oregon’s Weed Sales Continue Climbing?
With the uncertainty provided by the pandemic, state officials are unsure if the exponential growth seen in 2020 will continue into the new year.
Oregon Liquor Control Commission spokesperson Mark Pettinger wrote, “Legal cannabis sales levels have stayed fairly constant after a significant rise early in the pandemic, but we don’t know to what degree this will last. Does this reflect what other segments of our economy have experienced – expanding or contracting primarily because of the pandemic’s role as a market disruptor – or is this the new normal?”
However, year-over-year growth is nothing new for Oregon’s cannabis market. From 2017-2018, sales grew by 29%, and sales grew by more than 21% from 2018-2019. While the 40% growth seen this year was certainly supplemented by the pandemic economy, the strength of Oregon’s marijuana market is clear.
Along with Oregon, Illinois exceeded $1 billion in cannabis sales in 2020, and Colorado’s sales were outperforming their 2019 numbers with November and December sales still unaccounted for.
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