SALEM — Oregon medical marijuana dispensaries started collecting a 25 percent tax on the retail price of recreational marijuana products on Jan. 4.
Dispensaries started selling nontaxable limited recreational marijuana products — seeds, leaves, flowers, and non-flowering plants — to those 21 or older on Oct. 1, 2015. However, taxation wasn’t authorized to start until January, and the rate is in effect for dispensary sales until Dec. 31.
In contrast, in Washington state legal marijuana is currently taxed at a 37 percent rate, collected from retail consumers. Although it remains unlawful to transport marijuana between Washington and Oregon, the differential between zero tax in Oregon and the dramatically higher rate in Washington appears to have affected consumer behavior.
In Pacific County, the two licensed marijuana retailers experienced a 42.5 percent decline in sales between September and November 2015.
Washington state is in the process of issuing additional retail licenses, with either one or two more expected for Pacific County.
The Oregon Liquor Control Commission plans to start issuing licenses to retail facilities in late 2016. At licensed retailers, consumers will be able to buy more types of recreational marijuana products, including immature plants, edibles, concentrates, extracts, and topical products. Retail sales at licensed facilities will be taxed at 17 percent.
Oregon cities and counties can adopt an additional local tax of up to 3 percent on retail sales. The state Department of Revenue is not involved in the collection of local marijuana taxes.