- Associated Press - Thursday, July 6, 2017

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - Alaska’s marijuana industry has brought in more than $1 million in tax revenue since commercial sales began in October.

Revenue passed the mark on June 30, which was the due date for Alaska cannabis growers to pay taxes collected in May, The Juneau Empire reported (https://bit.ly/2sJSyAe ). The state’s May money pushed overall revenue to $1.2 million and was $272,600 - the highest of any single month since October.

The Department of Revenue predicted earlier this year that the state would collect $2 million in the fiscal year that ended July 1. The revenue will miss that mark, but officials said sales are on the verge of increasing.

Kelly Mazzei of the department’s tax division said outdoor growing operations have not yet made their first harvest. When that happens, the state’s tax revenue might soar, she said.

Mazzei predicted figures for June could reach $500,000.



Under Alaska’s rules, cultivators - not retailers - pay state taxes.

Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana, though only Oregon, Washington, Colorado and Alaska have fully fledged their industries. Nevada began allowing recreational sales July 1.

In Alaska, tax revenue has remained stubbornly below state projections for a variety of reasons including a slower-than-expected regulatory process, the time needed for cultivation and harvest, and the fact that out-of-state investment is not permitted.

Retailers and cultivators have been forced to bootstrap their own businesses, which requires them to gradually increase production as their monthly profits allow.

Fairbanks remains the marijuana farming capital of Alaska, according to Tax Division statistics. In May, nine cultivators paid taxes there. Anchorage had only two, the same number as Sitka and Juneau. Kenai had three cultivators.

Alaska’s retail stores have purchased a total of 289 pounds of marijuana from state farms.

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