By Joseph Ditzler

The Bulletin

The state of Oregon collected $60.15 million in taxes from the sale of recreational marijuana in 2016, the state Department of Revenue reported Friday.

The amount of tax collected peaked in October, when the state gathered $7.83 million in marijuana sales taxes. Afterward, the amount collected fell over the next two months to $5.65 million in December.

Even so, the tax collected exceeded a May estimate of $43.22 million in net revenue for the 2015-2017 biennium, said Joy Krawczyk, department spokeswoman. From gross tax revenue, the department must pay administrative costs and, eventually, reimburse the Oregon Liquor Control Commission for its Recreational Marijuana Program startup costs, she said.

“We won’t know for sure on the OLCC loan — they have until September 2017 to submit receipts,” Krawczyk said.

Although tax receipts appeared to decline in December, the Revenue Department has yet to collect all outstanding receipts for the month, which are due by the end of January, Krawczyk said. For third quarter 2016, the department has received about 70 percent of expected returns, 75 percent for the second quarter and 85 percent for the first, she said.

The OLCC, as it assumed the primary role as regulator of recreational marijuana in Oregon, began issuing licenses to retailers in October, after which the amount of tax collected began to decline. The tax rate for OLCC-licensed retailers is set at 17 percent, down from the 25 percent tax rate collected by the Oregon Health Authority starting Jan. 4, 2016.

During 2016, dispensaries regulated by the Oregon Health Authority were allowed to sell recreational marijuana to adult consumers under the limited early sales period, which ended Dec. 31.

Now, on top of the 17 percent tax collected on retail marijuana sales, counties and municipalities may add up to another 3 percent.

The city of Bend Finance Department estimates the city will collect about $500,000 annually in tax revenue from those sales, city spokeswoman Anne Aurand wrote in an email Friday. Seventeen recreational marijuana retailers are licensed in Bend so far, according to the OLCC.

For first quarter 2016, the most recent figures available other than statewide sales, Portland dispensaries far outsold dispensaries in other parts of the state, according to a Revenue Department report in December. Portland dispensaries sold $18.3 million worth of retail marijuana, creating $4.5 million in taxes due to the state.

The Revenue Department broke down its reporting areas into broad regions rather than municipalities and counties in order to avoid spotlighting revenue figures for individual dispensaries in areas where few retailers exist, Krawczyk said Friday.

The Central/Gorge/Northeastern region, which includes Bend, in first quarter 2016 sold $3.32 million worth of marijuana, which yielded $814,459 in taxes. That amounts to about 406,000 grams of marijuana sold that quarter at an average price of $8.19 per gram, the lowest price per gram reported by the Revenue Department for the quarter.

About one-quarter of all marijuana dispensaries in first quarter 2016 either failed to file a return or filed a return that “did not contain sensible component information,” according to the department report.

— Reporter: 541-617-7815, jditzler@bendbulletin.com

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