Before widespread decriminalization took place, one of the more pressing questions proposed by the state legislature was: Does cannabis have a place as a productive industry sector in Oregon society? What would be the broader implications of taking the state down the road of legalization? These questions can be conclusively answered now that recreational marijuana is widely available and, perhaps surprisingly to some, society hasn’t crumbled into some kind of post-nihilistic amoral apocalypse. Yep, looks like we’re still doing fine—in fact, we might be doing better than ever.
The Oregon cannabis industry has quickly become a considerable boon for residents throughout the state, ushering in an era of job growth, prosperity and cultural expansion to a part of the country that needed the boost. Here are some of the effects of this new legislature so far:
A handful of enterprising Portlanders and Oregon residents from other cities have taken it upon themselves to turn the state into a tourist destination for recreational cannabis use. This was previously a domain nearly monopolized by Amsterdam in the Netherlands, which leveraged lenient cannabis regulation to make itself a worldwide tourist attraction. The United States is finally coming around, and with new cannabis-related tourist opportunities popping up every day, people around the country and beyond are taking notice. Oregon’s tourism industry consists of more than 100,000 jobs, making up a $10.8 billion industry, and is growing at a breakneck pace.
Long before the legalization of recreational cannabis, there was a broad, general consensus among recreational and medical users alike that if pot was taxed, it would make the state a staggering sum of money. Jumping into the 21st century, recreational marijuana is widely available—and the profits are going into state coffers instead of clandestine grow operations. In the first three months after decriminalization, the state collected $10.5 million, which leads analysts to believe the year’s total tax take-in should be in the realm of $43 million, more than 20 times larger than original estimates.
Where does the money go? About $12 million will go into creating a robust regulatory apparatus to streamline cannabis regulation. The rest goes into statewide infrastructure: your schools, parks, roads, employee medical benefits and state-funded scholarships.
Beyond the obvious crime reduction that takes place when the authorities decriminalize produce, cannabis legislation has produced a wider and more pronounced footprint in local crime rates. While Federal statistics are still forthcoming (as of writing, the most recent statewide statistics are from the year 2012), members of law enforcement see a marked decrease in violent and gang-related crime in most urban areas. Taking a major cash incentive off the black market leads to better, more effective police work.