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The Economics Of Legalized Marijuana

OPB | July 31, 2014 12:40 p.m. | Updated: Aug. 1, 2014 8:56 a.m.

Jars of medicinal marijuana at Pure Green,  a Medical Marijuana dispensary in Portland.

Jars of medicinal marijuana at Pure Green,  a Medical Marijuana dispensary in Portland.

Katelyn Black / OPB

Economists agree on one thing: it’s very difficult to predict what legalized marijuana would cost in Oregon, and how much it would bring in in taxes. Beyond that, there’s little agreement between projections by the state’s Legislative Revenue Office and a study conducted by ECONorthwest with backing from the campaign for legalized marijuana.

The ECONorthwest study puts the price of legalized, recreational pot at $145 per ounce and says the state would rake in $38.5 million from marijuana taxes in the first year. The more conservative state estimate says the revenue from the first year would be more like $16 million.

The markets in Washington and Colorado are still new, but the price of legal weed in both states is still roughly double the street price.

We’ll dig into the economics of legalized marijuana with ECONorthwest senior economist Bob Whelan and Brian Smith, communications director for the Washington Liquor Control Board.

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