Since opening its doors to legalization over a month ago, Oregon's recreational market has ascended to unseen heights seemingly within only a month's span, surpassing both Colorado and Washington in first week sales, while demonstrating to skeptics the economic power of an industry that has yet to reach its full potential. Now, the Beaver state boasts yet another accolade in its quest for cannabis sovereignty by having more recreational marijuana dispensaries in the state than corporate giant's McDonald's or Starbucks locations.
Converting From Medical To Recreation
According to the Directory of Registered Dispensaries found on Oregon.gov
, Oregon had a significant amount of licensed medical marijuana dispensaries prior to recreational legalization, due to Measure 67
which was passed in 1998, allowing prescribed medical marijuana to patients with certain medical conditions.
Unlike Colorado who had only 24 retail locations and Washington who had only 4, Oregon's 269 total licensed medical marijuana dispensaries were ready to be converted over to retail stores the day that recreational marijuana laws in the state took effect. That's more than the *205 McDonald's or the 248 Starbucks locations located in the state that, at times, seem more noticeable than stop signs. (*www.menusim.com)
The simple addition of smoke shop supplies such as glass pipes, dry herb vaporizers
, and other smoking accessories to stock and store display, were among the few retail items needed for Oregon marijuana dispensaries to make the seamless transition between medical and retail business. When comparing sales to other legalized states, Oregon's head start is self-evident, taking in $11 million in its first week of sales, doubling Colorado's sales of $5 million, and drawing in over 5 times the revenue of neighboring Washington, which only totaled $2 million in sales in it's first week.
Lessons To Be Learned
Although reports from certain mainstream news sources have claimed that Oregon already had the second highest number of medical marijuana patients prior to recreational legalization, behind Colorado, based on population sample alone, this simply is not true. California, although still not legal for recreation, still has the highest number of medical marijuana patients
totaling well over the 500,000+ mark.
If any lessons can be learned from Oregon's inception into the recreational marijuana industry, it's that having a strong medical marijuana program established before recreational legalization takes effect, is a sound strategy for maximizing initial sales and getting off to a strong start.
Since California has the most medical marijuana patients and the longest established medical marijuana program, dating back to 1996, its fair to assume that if the state ever legalized for recreation, first week sales would be exponentially higher than Oregon's, due to its population alone. Similar theories and conclusions can be drawn from other states that currently have medical marijuana laws enacted; however, California would be most telling considering its 38.8 million person population. Even though Oregon's initial sales are impressive, the state has all but scratched the surface of economic potential that recreational legalization can have on states that already have medical marijuana programs in place, and that are prepared to reap its many rewards.