For the first time since Alaskans legalized recreational marijuana, the state has collected more than $1 million in marijuana taxes in a single month.
According to newly released figures from the Alaska Department of Revenue, the state collected $1.04 million from 81 taxpayers in January. In Alaska, state marijuana taxes are collected at the wholesale level, when product is transferred from farm to retail store. Taxes are $50 per ounce for bud/flower and $15 per ounce for other plant parts.
Farms sold 1,061 pounds of marijuana bud and 797 pounds of other plant parts, according to the tax report.
Tax reports trail collections by a month: Figures from February will be available April 1. Preliminary numbers, said state excise tax director Kelly Mazzei, indicate February collections in the range of $800,000.
January’s million-dollar month follows two consecutive months of sales declines. Until January, it had appeared that marijuana tax collections were following a pattern similar to alcohol taxes: highest in the summer and lowest in the winter, when the state’s population drops.
Though Alaskans legalized recreational marijuana with a ballot measure in 2014, the first retail sales didn’t take place until October 2016. That means limited information is available about potential demand and the ebb and flow of the industry.
In 2017, according to Department of Revenue figures, the state collected $6.1 million in marijuana taxes. For the current fiscal year (which ends June 30), the state has estimated that it will collect $10.6 million in marijuana taxes. Alaska is on pace to meet that figure, Mazzei said by email.
State law reserves half of all state marijuana taxes for drug and alcohol treatment. The other half goes into the state’s general fund.
In the Capitol this session, lawmakers have repeatedly questioned whether the marijuana industry is earning more money for the state than it costs. The Alaska Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office, the state regulatory body, is expected to have a $3.8 million budget in the fiscal year that starts July 1.
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