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Ontario starts to see revenue from recreational marijuana dispensaries

Posted at 4:07 PM, Dec 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-19 18:07:45-05

ONTARIO, Oregon — It has been a wild year in eastern Oregon after voters approved recreational marijuana dispensaries within city limits in November of 2018, this summer dispensaries started opening their doors and now we have a measurement of what the means for the city.

In August and September there were two dispensaries open and because of the three percent sales tax on cannabis Ontario received an average of $90,000 a month, do the math and that adds up to more than one million dollars in new revenue for the city.

"We tried to project it conservatively at $750,000 so it is going at a faster pace then we projected," said Adam Brown the Ontario City Manager.

The city plans on investing that money back into the community by paying off debt, improving infrastructure and providing more recreational opportunities, last year the council voted to close the city's recreation department, however, the rec department has their own funding.

In addition, the state of Oregon divides up money throughout the state to different communities and Ontario used it's share to hire two new police officers.

"We will be at our highest officer level in probably 20 years," said Brown. "We also hired a code enforcement officer because we are really focused on beautifying and making the city livable.

The city manager told us there haven't been any big problems because of the marijuana industry, there was an issue with the surprise concert where Snoop Dogg showed up and Hot Box Farms didn't have the proper permits, but other than that it has been pretty smooth sailing.

Currently there are three dispensaries in town and two more are expected to open in the next month or two, however, the city is being cautious about how they use all this new money.

"We are trying to utilize the revenue like we aren't going to have it forever," said Brown.