The states that have legalized recreational marijuana — a multi-billion-dollar business — don’t want to hear the federal government talk about a crackdown. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown says she wants Oregonians left alone to “grow these jobs.”
In Oregon alone, that’s roughly 12,500 jobs, said economist Beau Whitney of Portland, adding that he is making a conservative estimate. Oregon’s attorney general said she would be duty-bound to fight to protect the state’s marijuana industry.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said his department is reviewing a Justice Department memo that gives states flexibility in passing marijuana laws and noted “it does remain a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States, whether a state legalizes it or not.” White House spokesman Sean Spicer predicted stepped up enforcement.
Underscoring how the marijuana industry is pushing job growth in Oregon, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which regulates and licenses the state’s recreational marijuana industry, says it has over 12,640 applications for marijuana worker permits. It has also received 2,174 marijuana license applications, with over half coming from would-be producers and the rest mostly from those seeking to set up as retailers, processors, wholesalers and laboratories. It had activated 943 licenses by Tuesday.
Marijuana shops are prevalent in many Oregon cities. In the countryside, marijuana greenhouses are not uncommon.
“We now have a nascent, somewhat successful industry,” Brown said in an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press and a freelance journalist. “These are good paying jobs. It’s a pretty diverse business community.”
In January alone, recreational marijuana sales in Oregon were over $20 million, with medical marijuana generating about $2.8 million more, the OLCC said.
In Oregon, Washington state and Colorado, marijuana tax revenues totaled at least $335 million in either the last calendar year or the last fiscal year.
Whitney, who has been involved