Updated on May 13, 2021.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
For the remaining states who are still ‘on the fence’ about creating a medical cannabis program for qualified patients, the success story in Oregon may inspire you. Like other jurisdictions that expanded statewide medical marijuana programs, Oregon cannabis sales are getting higher every month.
The annual tax revenue from retail cannabis sales now exceeds $100 million, which Oregon regulators collect as a 17% excise tax. Counties receive a 3% tax bump for each cannabis product sold. That adds up to more resources for the state of Oregon at a time when pandemic-economic worries are also high. As well as healthcare expenses for the state related to COVID-19.
The only supply challenge that has plagued Oregon so far, was a shortage of fresh flower. The Cannabis Tracking System (CTS) reported unsold whole flower inventory; medical and Adult-Use cannabis buyers seemed to hold out for the fresh flower products, despite production issues.
The Oregon Medical Marijuana Program reveals some interesting sales trends for the state. In Q1, Oregon saw an increased demand for medical cannabis products from adult patients with the following health needs:
Is patient demand for medical cannabis increasing in Oregon? In January of 2020, there were 1,316 physicians who were responsible for 449 patient applications, or 39% of all new patient registration requests to date. Thirteen physicians on the list processed 450+ patient applications or 58% of all applications.
There are 97 counties in Oregon that have exercised the right to “Opt-Out” from medical marijuana dispensaries, cultivation, or manufacturing in their jurisdiction. The forms submitted to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission and petitions will be put to a ballot for residents to vote in the next general election.
The Media Reports Cannabis “Hoarding” Behaviors at Pandemic Proportions
It is difficult to forecast cannabis sales because business analysts are not sure how much of the rapid growth in medical and Adult-Use cannabis sales are due to COVId-19. Stress levels are high across the country. More people are at home on temporary to long-term unemployment, at jobless rates we have not seen in decades. Is it hard to imagine why people may be ‘stocking up’ on strains that have also deemed “essential” for riding out the pandemic and moderating anxiety or depression?
Forbes published an article on March 19, 2020, by Joan Olek, titled “It’s Not Just Toilet Paper and Sanitizer: Consumers Are Also Stocking Up on Cannabis.” Investors in cannabis stocks have commented on the significantly (and sometimes record-breaking) increase of medical cannabis and Adult-Use marijuana since the COVID-19 lockdown began.
In fact, the Novel COVID-19 Coronavirus may be the catalyst that inches other states into adopting a new medical cannabis program or expanding to provide access to patients with rare diseases, or at the physician’s discretion. Medical cannabis is a high-demand product with taxation revenue potential that may help states survive economically through the health crisis.