Washington recreational cannabis sales and diversion rates took a dip when neighboring Oregon enacted recreational legalization. This is according to a University of Oregon study that was published in the working paper series of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Examining recreational sales two months before and two months after Oregon legalized recreational cannabis, researchers found that approximately 11.9% of recreational sales were being diverted to Oregon before legalization. After legalization, that number dropped to 7.5%—Oregonians didn’t need Washington recreational cannabis anymore, they had their own state-grown products.
Areas most affected by legalization were counties situated along the Columbia River, which experienced a 41% drop in sales in the three days following the opening of Oregon’s recreational market.
Although state officials would ideally like to see illegal diversion drop to zero, Benjamin Hansen, a University of Oregon W.E. Miner Professor of Economics and one of the researchers that wrote the study, said in a release that there is little cause of concern.
“Our study says that 93 percent of marijuana sold in Washington is probably staying there now,” Hansen said. “There’s probably not a lot you can do about the remaining share that is being diverted at this point. This is just the likely consequence of partial prohibition.”
Hansen went on to say that people seem to prefer purchasing cannabis from retail stores as opposed to the black market.