[Canniseur: Why is this surprising? Of course, people in Idaho are smoking cannabis. And of course, they’d drive to the nearest place to get their favorite substance. And of course, Idaho is not benefiting from the additional taxes legalization would bring. Nothing is surprising here. States like Idaho that won’t bend with the prevailing forces will lose out…at least for now.]
Idaho isn’t known for its sandy beaches, but when it comes to legal cannabis, the state is its own kind of island surrounded by unlimited greenery in neighboring Oregon, Washington, and Nevada. And recently, it has become abundantly clear that Idaho residents are making the trek to Oregon’s eastern border in order to get their hands on some legal weed.
According to a new report from the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis, Beaver State pot sales spike by a whopping — and comically appropriate — 420% at dispensaries near the Idaho border. Similarly, legal weed sales in Washington State were higher at dispensaries closer to the Idaho border.
“The sales in counties along the Idaho border were much stronger than I anticipated,” Oregon state analyst Josh Lehner told the Associated Press. “Obviously recreational marijuana is not legal in Idaho, but even after throwing the data into a rough border tax model that accounts for income, number of retailers, tax rates and the like, there remains a huge border effect.”
Despite its proximity to some of the country’s earliest legalization adopters, Idaho has not yet budged on either medical or adult-use prohibition. But in the years since its West Coast neighbors legalized, research has already come out touting Idaho’s own benefits from legalization, such as a drop in DUI arrests.
And with many of Idaho’s most populous counties sitting just miles from the Oregon border, it is clear why many cannabis consumers are no longer paying attention to their home state’s strict weed laws. According to the Oregon economic report, three quarters of cannabis sales near the Idaho border were due to cross state commerce.
“Roughly speaking, about 75% of Oregon sales and more like 35% of Washington sales in counties along the Idaho border appear due to the border effect itself and not local socio-economic conditions,” the report detailed.
But if Idaho residents have it their way, the abnormal sales spikes in Oregon and Washington will quickly turn temporary. The Idaho Statesman reported that activists are currently collecting signatures to finally add a medical marijuana legalization question to the state’s 2020 ballot. At least we know the demand is already there.
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