The state of Alaska collected more than $11 million in marijuana taxes from cultivators.
Alaska’s marijuana tax revenue for fiscal year 2018 exceeded predictions from the Alaska Department of Revenue by nearly $2 million. Official figures for FY18 were released by the DOR last week, revealing that the state collected more than $11 million from marijuana cultivators.
The marijuana tax revenue totals for this fiscal year that ended June 30 are significantly higher than the $1.7 million collected in FY17.
“We absolutely are exceeding our predictions and additionally we are seeing a very steady increase in tax revenue collection each month,” Kelly Mazzei, excise tax supervisor with DOR, told NBC affiliate KTUU-TV.
Alaska became the third of what are now nine states to legalize recreational marijuana after voters approved Measure 2 in 2014. Residents and tourists aged 21 years and older can purchase and carry up to 1 ounce of marijuana at home or in the trunk of a vehicle. While recreational marijuana is Alaska is the most expensive in the country, higher prices haven’t deterred interested consumers.
Since stores opened nearly two years ago, the state has seen its revenue from state marijuana taxes increase almost tenfold from year to year. The revenue collected for the month of June 2018 was the state’s highest ever, at over $1.2 million. That’s about $77,000 more that the totals for May, and the DOR expects that monthly sales will continue to increase in the new fiscal year.
“I don’t believe the market has saturated and we haven’t seen exactly what capacity the state is going to operate in as far as cultivation and retail stores and other facilities,” said Mazzei. “So we could continue to collect an unknown amount of money in taxes.”
For fiscal year 2019, which began on June 30, Alaska’s DOR forecasts that the state will collect $18 million in marijuana taxes.
Under Alaska’s current regulations, a $50 per ounce excise tax is paid by a cultivator once the cannabis is transferred to a retail store. The rest of the plant is taxed at $15 per ounce. The revenue department is currently considering a third tax category on immature or abnormal buds at $25 per ounce.
What is Alaska’s Marijuana Money Used For?
Half of Alaska’s marijuana tax revenue goes to the Recidivism Reduction Fund, which is aimed at reducing the number of repeat criminal offenders by financially supporting programs focused on treating substance abuse, behavioral health, and domestic violence.
The remaining half of tax revenue currently goes to the state’s general fund for any government purpose. Legislators are considering designating additional marijuana money to education.
With the recent signing of Senate Bill 104 by Alaska Gov. Bill Walker, beginning sometime next year another 25 percent of marijuana tax revenue will go towards marijuana education and awareness.
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