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Portland Weed Demand Hits Three-Year Low

An Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission database shows that pot sales in Portland, Oregon have dropped to the lowest level for three years. Some experts attribute the dip in pot sales to the temporary pandemic.

In June 2022, retail cannabis shops across Multnomah County, the state’s most populous area, made the lowest monthly profit they have since early 2019—hitting just $27,000 on average.

The price of cannabis flower is the lowest it’s been since April 2019. The county’s average gram sells for just $4.29 a gram—quite a bit lower than you’d find in most other states. Some have blamed the drop in value on Oregon’s oversupply problem, while others say the state’s oversupply problem wasn’t quite so bad as reported.

Portland residents bought $21 million worth of flower in July 2020, in the middle of the pandemic—and it was the most cannabis ever purchased in the state in a single month.

Overall, marijuana sales rose steadily from 2016 to 2016, however, they soared in 2020 partly because of the increased use of online stimuli and working remotely. In the span of only five months, cannabis sales in the county  increased by 79%. In July 2020, the average monthly gross income of cannabis shops in Multnomah county was $48,000. However, sales fell shortly thereafter. This was the lowest level since June 2019.

Willamette Week Profiled Portland business owners who confirm stagnant sales.

Ascend’s Northeast Portland shop is owned by Bret Birth, who acknowledged the decrease in demand. “No one’s selling anything, which means no one’s buying anything,” Born told Willamette Week. “Vendors and shops are saying that this isn’t a gangbuster summer. Leading into the fall and winter, we could really be looking at tough times.”

TJ Sheehy is the Director of Analytics and Research at the OLCC. He stated that, besides 2020 and 2021 and 2022 which he considers an anomaly in the year, the actual sales trend tracks with current consumption trends.

“We had a big pandemic bump, but that has proved ephemeral. Now we’re back to normal,” Sheehy says. “But because we had that COVID-19 bump, businesses were responding to that when making their planting decisions, so that exacerbated the higher-supply issue.”

In addition, it turns out that a lot of people who could work at home found they also had more time to smoke weed, and many of the jobs are returning back to jobs at the office, so it’s not feasible anymore.

Beau Whitney, of research firm Whitney Economics, said that many Oregonians are suddenly finding they can no longer “work from stoned.”

“We’re pretty far away from stimulus payments with COVID-19, and inflation has crept up. I feel like, for a lot of people, cannabis dollars are discretionary dollars,” said Mason Walker, co-owner and CEO of East Fork Cultivars in Takilma. “People are tightening their belts a little bit.”

“I think everyone in the industry is feeling the slump right now and trying to figure out if it’s a temporary or permanent thing,” Walker said.

The area continues to be strong in equity efforts. In May 2020, Dasheeda Dawson was named cannabis program supervisor for Portland, Oregon’s Office of Community and Civic Life. Even during the epidemic, Dawson managed a program for social equity and faced new challenges.

Despite the temporary drop in sales, slow and steady growth can be seen in the big picture of the viability of Portland’s cannabis market.