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View of Anchorage, Alaska during the annual winter nighttime.

Paxson Woelber

Since the launch of retail cannabis sales in Alaska, the state has collected more than $1.2 million in tax revenue derived from the industry, leading one tax department official to call the preliminary figures for June “ridiculously fantastic.” The department hauled in $272,600 from cannabis sales in May.

“…And rough numbers indicate tax collections [for June] could exceed $500,000!” Kelley Mazzei said in an email to the Juneau Empire.

The state Department of Revenue had predicted it would collect $2 million in cannabis taxes in the fiscal year that ended July 1. It had initially expected $12 million in April 2016, but lowered its estimates to $5 million in December 2016, and to $2 million in April 2017. Sales were stalled by a slower-than-expected regulatory process, lack of available products, and the fact that out-of-state investment is not permitted under the state’s cannabis program.

However, Mazzei indicated that the state’s outdoor growers, which are seasonal but much larger than their indoor counterparts, have not yet harvested their first crops. Once those crops are harvested and available, the tax revenues could climb even higher, she said.

In May, Alaska’s retail dispensaries collectively purchased 289 pounds of cannabis from the state’s cultivators, a new high for commercial sales.

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