ONTARIO, Oregon — Ontario marijuana dispensaries were bringing in $8 million in sales each month since they opened in July of 2019, but now they have reached a new record.
Malheur County, with Ontario being the only city in that county to sell marijuana, has sold over $121 million in marijuana since the shops first opened in July 2019 and a new record of $9.5 million in January, according to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.
“We have definitely noticed more people coming in the store but really noticed within the past few months every time a stimulus check came out or something like that not only do we get more customers coming in the ticket number started raising as well," said Chase Muromoto, Director of Operations for the Treasure Valley Cannabis Company.
“It brings a lot of traffic into our community and helps some of our other merchants, but largely I think they come in and come out, but they spend money here, and that is benefitting the tax base in Ontario," said Adam Brown, Ontario City Manager.
With a 3 percent tax, for January, the City of Ontario received $285,000 from marijuana taxes and $3.6 million tax revenue since July 2019.
"The governing officials at the city council have asked us to use that for capital in paying down our state pension obligation so that we can have more long-term capacity,” said Brown. "It's brought it down from $16 million down to $11 million, so for every dollar that we put into the site account, we were able to get another dollar back from the state."
They've also used the marijuana sales tax towards their police department and other improvements, but Brown said that the dispensaries bring in more than just money.
"The visual impact has been noticeable, and they build really nice buildings," he said. "Treasure Valley Cannabis has taken an interest in serving the community. He paid them to go downtown and clean just pick up the garbage, and he also sponsored our downtown mural event."
The City of Ontario and the state will continue to monitor the industry to make sure they are up to par with regulations.
“We wrote into our ordinances that the city has the ability to close them if certain conditions aren’t met," said Brown. "They have been very compliant, but to say that it isn't a regulated industry wouldn’t be fair because they have a lot of checks and balances."
“Within the system, the state is able to track where the products are coming from, who they are going to, who is buying what, and that is how we all stay compliant within the state and with the legalities of it too,” said Muromoto.
He also said they are constantly checking with the health departments to make sure they are following COVID-19 regulations.
"We want our customers to feel safe and also our staff to feel comfortable as well," said Muromoto.