October Sales: What really lies ahead

Obviously rushing to sales in October meant some speed bumps ahead, but it always seemed like the benefits far outweighed the costs. However, now I’m realizing that one of these costs is clarity. In trying to update and confirm the status on October sales, I’ve come across some confusing legislature.

Senate Bill 460, the bill allowing October sales, mentions nothing about taxation during this time period. There are stipulations – for example, recreational users 21 and over, may only buy up to a quarter ounce per day (per dispensary). That’s not a bad guideline, but it turns out that there will be quite a bit of tax on this weed. Maybe?

According to oregon.gov’s FAQ page on recreational marijuana, there will be a 25% tax to pay in dispensaries. The answer to the question of taxation continues: “Recreational sales in medical dispensaries are slated to start on October 1, 2015, and end on December 31, 2016.The tax will be imposed on sales after January 4, 2016.” I had already known of this possibility of tax-free weed and believed it, but here it’s mentioned so briefly. Does this 25% tax really start as late as January, even though it says that the “tax will be 25% for the limited time that recreational marijuana will be sold in dispensaries?”

That seems so straightforward – 25% tax for recreational sold in dispensaries. This starts in October and lasts until a predicted December 31st, 2016. This is already a limited amount of time, but the “after January 4, 2016” undercuts 3 months of that. However, despite that brief mention at the end, that sentiment suggests yes, tax-free weed.

That said, dispensaries are getting ready to take advantage of this opportunity for profit. I’ve already been made aware of the fact that some dispensaries will only be showing their buyers the “bottom shelf shwag,” as we say. Thousands of people who have never seen something like a dispensary will have this skewed perception of bud, and be paying extra for it. Not to mention, there will be a limit to only “4 units” of non-flower marijuana product. You can only buy seeds, flower, and clones (a marijuana plant that is not flowering). No concentrates, no edibles or drinkables, just cold, dry, flower.

Just kidding – it’s really not that bad, but once January hits, that 25% will be rough. When there’s no overlap of recreational retail stores, still predicted for open in July, 2016, it’ll be especially bad. When those retail stores open, the taxes will be around 17-20%, much less than the dispensary prices. But I’m predicting that right around May, all the dispensaries will start showing off, to keep the recreational crew coming. December 31st, 2016 marks the end of recreational sale in dispensaries, so they’ll have to use these upcoming months wisely. Keep an eye out for that bottom shelf, and growing your own is still the best way!