Recreational Marijuana Gets Early Start in Oregon
- Sep 11, 2015 | Gail Cole
You’ve heard of Head Start, which promotes school readiness in low-income children under 5 years of age? Well, Oregon is gearing up for a similar program, one that will allow pot smokers to legally purchase recreational marijuana before pot shops open.
It’s been legal for Oregonians to grow, possess and consume limited amounts of pot for pleasure since July 1, 2015. Yet those wishing to partake without growing their own are in a bit of a pickle, as there is no legal place to purchase pot recreationally (unless you cross the state line). That will change on October 1, 2015, when it becomes legal to buy and sell “small amounts of recreational marijuana” at medical marijuana dispensaries in Oregon.
But legalization comes at a price. For the first few months, recreational marijuana sold at medical dispensaries won’t be regulated. However, beginning January 4, 2016, medical marijuana dispensaries will be required to collect a 25% sales tax on all sales to non-medical marijuana cardholders.
Will customers pay a premium for their pot? Alex Fallenstedt, who works at a medical dispensary in Portland, thinks they will. “It’s tested, it’s in a clean environment and is in a safe environment, where they can talk with the person about cannabis, how it was grown, where it was grown.” For some, that peace of mind and convenience is surely worth the extra 25%.
The 25% sales tax is to be repealed at the end of 2016, a few months after the state’s first recreational pot shops open for business. Another new tax, however, won’t be repealed: the 17% tax on the retail sale of marijuana items by recreational marijuana retailers that takes effect January 1, 2016.