Ohio Group Predicts $2.2B in Sales if State Legalizes Marijuana

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A group seeking to legalize both medical and recreational marijuana in Ohio estimates that annual retail cannabis sales could hit $2.2 billion by 2020 if its measure passes this November.

It also predicts that cultivators and processors will generate nearly another $2 billion in annual revenues by then, while the state could see up to $554 million in tax money in 2020. The report, issued by ResponsibleOhio, didn’t include estimates for earlier years, even though legal MMJ and rec sales could begin by late 2016 if the ballot measure winds up passing.

The figures are based on the assumption that the estimated legal use in Ohio would be more than 244 metric tons of cannabis by that year.

By contrast, dispensaries and retail stores in Colorado sold nearly $700 million in cannabis in 2014, the first full year of rec sales that can be analyzed.

ResponsibleOhio said the immense number has been “preliminarily validated” by the Cleveland economics firm Burke, Rosen & Associates, according to a press release. The initial numbers, however, were prepared by campaign staff, said ResponsibleOhio spokeswoman Lydia Bolander.

The campaign’s formula is based on methodology used by the Rand Corporation and Botec Analysis Corp., both of which produced forecasts for Colorado and Washington, Bolander said. But neither of those two states have garnered anywhere near half a billion in tax revenue. At least not yet.

“Because we’ve leveled a 15% tax at everybody who is involved in producing that product, the level gets up there pretty quickly,” Bolander said.

Bolander said the estimate represents an “optimistic middle of the road” forecast.

ResponsibleOhio is still waiting for permission from state agencies to begin collecting signatures so their ballot initiative can qualify for the November ballot. If it passes, the earliest that rec and MMJ shops could open would likely be late next year, Bolander said.