The latest cannabis sales figures out of Alaska reveal that July was a record breaking month in sales and tax revenue.
In a single month, the state of Alaska generated a third of the cannabis sales it made the entire year prior. According to new data from the Alaska Department of Revenue, the state made $577,000 in July from marijuana tax, which is about 33 percent of the $1.7 million in total marijuana tax revenue brought in last fiscal year.
The recently released tax receipts indicate that the marijuana cultivation industry in Alaska is growing. July’s sales figures are the highest to date for Alaska’s cannabis industry, which started selling recreational marijuana last October.
Alaska’s marijuana taxes are collected from the cultivators at the wholesale level instead of the retail level. The state collects $50 in tax per ounce of flower and $15 per ounce for trimmings, which include stems or leaves that are typically used for concentrates and edibles. The latest data shows that in July alone it sold 612 pounds of marijuana, and 369 pounds of trimmings. Since marijuana was legalized, cultivators have paid a total of about $2.3 million dollars in taxes.
Kalley Mazzei, an Alaska excise tax supervisor tasked with overseeing marijuana tax collections, has said she expects sales figures for August to be even higher. Those figures will be published the first day of October.
“It’s nice to see a new tax bringing in state revenue. That is exciting,” Mazzei told the Juneau Empire.
The data shows that six new cultivators came online in July. The city of Fairbanks leads the way in number of tax-paying marijuana farms with 12. Anchorage reported seven farms in July. Soldotna is third in the state with four farms, and Juneau is tied for fourth with several other cities that have three marijuana farms.
While the state has had a record month in terms of cannabis production and sales, the industry still is significantly behind its initial projections. In fiscal year 2017, Alaska expected to bring in $2 million in revenue but fell short at $1.7 million. In fiscal year 2018, Alaska expects $106 million in marijuana tax revenue, which would be an average of $883,000 per month.
In August, the Anchorage Assembly renewed the licenses of several cultivation and retail facilities. Since opening in October, retail stores have been running short on product because of bottlenecks at the cultivation and testing levels. During the assembly meeting, members acknowledged that their process of building a cultivation and retail network adequate to meet customer demand has been slow, but were happy with the gradual growth.
“I am very pleased with how responsible the industry has been,” said assembly member Tim Steele.
Alaska is one of eight U.S. states that have passed laws legalizing recreational marijuana. Voters approved the adult use measure in 2014, and while advocates have criticized the slow roll out of the program, once operational the market is expected to offer a significant economic boost to local and state economies.
Alaska’s adult use marijuana law allows adults ages 21 years and older to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana at home or in the trunk or a vehicle.