Legal Marijuana a 'Powerful Force' in Oregon Economy

Cannabis has quickly become a billion dollar industry in Oregon that employs tens of thousands of people.
Legal Marijuana a 'Powerful Force' in Oregon Economy
Image credit: Heath Korvola | Getty Images

A new report on the recreational and medical marijuana industry in Oregon estimates that 12,500 jobs have been created with cumulative annual wages of $315 million.

With the report, done by Beau Whitney of Whitney Economics, Oregon joins Colorado in reporting a big economic boost from the legalization of marijuana.

It’s important to note that Whitney wrote the report for the Oregon state government's House of Representatives Committee on Economic Development and Trade. With that caveat, the report shows some impressive numbers associated with the marijuana business, much like Colorado reported late in 2016.

Related: Researchers Believe Legal Marijuana Could Hurt Beer Sales

Report Highlights

Whitney looked at job creation and other economic impacts of marijuana in the Beaver State. Oregon voters approved medical marijuana in 2011 and adult-use marijuana in 2015.

Related: How Do We Measure the Statistical Significance of Legal Cannabis?

The report is actually preliminary. A more detailed look at the Oregon marijuana business is expected later this year. In his report, Whitney wrote that the job and wage numbers in the report are “very conservatively estimated.”

The report found the following:

  • There are 917 licensed cannabis businesses in Oregon (as of Feb. 21)
  • Of the 917 licensed businesses, 426 are producers while 344 are retailers. The rest are for laboratory testing, processors, wholesalers and researchers.
  • Another 1,225 applications have been filed to form a new cannabis business
  • About 12,500 people are employed by the cannabis industry
  • These only include employees in work that “touches” marijuana, not the many other workers who work in ancillary businesses such as security, regulation, accounting, legal counsel, real estate and business consulting
  • Using an average wage of $12.13 per hour, that means $315 million in annual salaries for these jobs
  • Using a multiplier of 4, that means a total economic impact of more than $1.2 billion

The report can be seen in full here.

Numbers Expected to Grow

Again, these numbers represent conservative estimated based on preliminary information. The number should increase when the full report is completed, Whitney wrote.

Related: The Many Ways the Cannabis Industry Lacks Traditional Marketing Expertise

“A more comprehensive jobs report will be researched and published later in 2017, but this initial update should demonstrate that the cannabis industry is a powerful force in the Oregon economic engine,” Whitney wrote.

Previous reports also have shown how cities in Oregon have benefitted from legalized marijuana. For example, Portland has collected more than $250,000 in application fees for marijuana business. The city is projected to collect $2 million in licensing fees, as well. 

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