Record-breaking revenue: Oregon cannabis sales topped the $1 billion mark last year

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Cannabis sales in Oregon surpassed $1 billion in 2020, with most transactions taking place inside the state’s licensed recreational cannabis stores. 

According to data from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC), total cannabis sales climbed from $795 million in 2019 to $1.11 billion in 2020 a milestone moment for retailers operating statewide.

Considering the coronavirus-related economic hurdles that the state is currently attempting to overcome, analysts and industry insiders were pleased to hear about the inflating sales figures for Oregon’s cannabis industry.

Oregon’s cannabis sales spurred on by coronavirus pandemic, revenue results show

Adults aged 21 and over have been legally able to purchase recreational cannabis since stores began accepting transactions in March. However, the measure that legalized adult-use cannabis – Measure 91 – was approved in 2015. Two months after sales took off, customer expenditure increased by 20 percent. 

The surge in spending coincided with coronavirus “lockdowns”, which suggests that consumers were relying heavily on legal weed sources to help them deal with their newly restrictive lifestyle. In May, Oregon’s cannabis sales surpassed $100 million the first time that sales hit this milestone. 

For the next three months, consumer spending continued to drive Oregon’s cannabis sales revenue in a northerly direction; more than $100 million was recorded during June, July and August, with July alone harvesting sales in excess of $106 million. 

“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,” reads an email from OLCC spokesman Mark Pettinger to MJBiz Daily reporters. “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?”

Legal cannabis sales in Oregon have greatly strengthened the economy

Oregon is paving the way for the nation’s cannabis market. The nascent cannabis industry has already bulked up Oregon city’s annual general fund budget of $10 million with an additional $2.5 million in revenue. This revenue poured in from a three percent cannabis sales tax.

So, exactly where did Oregon’s cannabis sales see the most success in 2020? Malheur County constituted eight percent of the state’s legal sales revenue last year — surprising, since the county only harbors 0.7 percent of the state’s entire population! Trailing just behind Malheur County – which took the top spot on a per-capita basis – was Multnomah County, where sales racked up more than $313 million.

Recently-legal U.S. states – such as Arizona, New Jersey, South Dakota and Montana – may want to keep a close eye on the state, where the first retail cannabis store opened for business in July 2019. By the following year, the store count inflated to eight, which resulted in a 352 percent sales increase for the province. 

States that have imposed restrictions on cannabis business licensing, such as Missouri, should take note of this data. After all, it indicates that sales can escalate at a monumental rate, so long as customers have ample access to retail store-sold bud and related products.