Living in Portland can be rough. One of the nation's least affordable real estate markets never seems to ease up. And in April, the deposit on drink containers rises from 5 to 10 cents—a 100 percent increase that will make your IPA more expensive.
Thank God—or more appropriately, the Oregon Legislature—for cheap weed. In these troubled times, it's making Oregon great again.
A variety of publications from Forbes to the less buttoned-down Weedweek have surveyed prices across the country, and found Oregon the Costco of cannabis.
Related: Forbes: Oregon Has the Cheapest Weed in America
Last year, for instance, the blog Perfect Price surveyed the six states in the country with the most dispensaries: Arizona, California, Colorado, Michigan, Oregon and Washington. Oregon's price per ounce was then the cheapest, at $214, and of the major cities in those states, five of the eight cheapest were in Oregon.
Mark Pettinger, spokesman for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which regulates recreational marijuana in the state, says Oregon's prices are low by design.
"The whole idea is to make the legal product competitive with the black market," Pettinger says.
There are a bunch of advantages to that policy: Low prices boost sales and tax revenue. Discouraging illegal activity reduces law enforcement and social costs.
As the first state to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana and one of the first to legalize medical marijuana, Oregon has a strong cannabis culture and is known as a major (illicit) exporter.
But our real advantage, says industry veteran Beau Whitney, an economist at BDS Analytics, is our approach to taxes.
In Colorado, there are three levels of tax that add up to 27.9 percent. In Washington, the rate is 37 percent, more than double Oregon's 17 percent, onto which local jurisdictions can only tack on another 3 percent.
Oregon's tax rate is simpler than Colorado's and far lower than Washington's.
"It's mainly the tax difference that makes us cheap," Whitney says.
But he warns Oregon's Dollar Tree status is in danger. States that voted to legalize pot last year will start sales with lower state taxes: California and Nevada at 15 percent, Maine and Massachusetts at 10.
Whitney says if Oregon wants to continue attracting marijuana tourists and investors to keep the industry growing, lawmakers should consider following Maine and Massachusetts.
"Should we lower our tax rate?" Whitney asks. "Absolutely."
Welcome to Reasons to Love Portland 2017
1. Portland Is Telling Donald Trump That He Won't Get Away With This
2. We're Rich! Portland Has The Nation's Fastest Growing GDP
3. Here's How Far Portlanders Have Ridden in the First Six Months of BikeTown
4. We're Very Happy That Portland Bartenders Can Finally Drink on The Job.
5. When the Snow Hit, Portlanders Saved Lives By Volunteering at Homeless Shelters
6. At Long Last, Portland Has The Kinky Coffee Shop It's Needed
7. A Selected List of All Portland's Recent Number 1 Rankings
8. Move Over PCT: You'll Soon Be Able to Mountain Bike From Washington to California
9. Oregon Has The Nation's Cheapest Weed. Thank God.
10. This is the Best Ski Season Mount Hood Has Had Since Obama Was a Senator
11. Nobody Snowdays Harder Than Portland
12. Portland Finally Has Architecture Worth Arguing About
13. Check Out This Crazy New Recording Studio in a Former Library in Deep Southeast
14. Weed Delivery Will Begin in Portland Any Day Now
15. In Portland, You Never, Ever Need To Call Domino's
16. Portland Is Home to the Most Liberal College in America. No, Not That One.
17. There's A Forgotten Wonder In Oregon City. It'll Soon Be Revealed
18. Portland's Blazers Bootleg T-Shirts Are Lit
19. Portland is Metal AF
20. ILOVEMAKONNEN Moved To Portland. No, For Real
21. Sorry, Donald, We Won't Help You Deport Our Neighbors.
22. Portland Now Has a Patriarchy-Free Social Club and Workspace
23. Oregon is the New Truffle King of the World
24. Check Out These Photos of the Winter Light Festival
25. In Portland, You Can See Every Movie Nominated For an Oscar in the Theater
26. Portland Art Museum is Tapping into the Legacy of Arguably Oregon's Greatest Artist
27. Yes, Portland Has More Pinball Machines Than New York and Los Angeles
28. Portland Has Vegan Everything. A Selected List.
29. In Portland, Dive Bars Never Really Die