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Agencies say pot law could cost $7M to administer

Posted: March 18, 2014 - 12:04am

ANCHORAGE — A regulatory system and enforcement involving legalized marijuana could cost Alaska $3.7 million to $7 million, according to a report by eight state agencies.

Alaskans will consider a pot legalization measure on the Aug. 19 primary ballot then would have nine months to prepare for legalization if voters say yes.

The report included information from the departments of Public Safety, Environmental Conservation and others, the Anchorage Daily News said Sunday.

The cost analysis was presented last month to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. The report acknowledged that details about legalization remain to be worked out.

“There are numerous unknowns,” it said.

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol in Alaska said the report was not objective or well-researched.

“It was put together hastily by government bureaucrats who have a vested interest in arguing for bigger budgets and more money from Juneau,” campaign spokesman Taylor Bickford said.

The eight agencies used information from Colorado and Washington, where recreational marijuana is already legal, to estimate costs. First-year costs would be higher than later years, the report said.

“Over the longer term, it would be expected that more of the state’s total costs would become public health and education activities as the extent of the impact on public health becomes more defined,” the report said.

An extra position to inspect food facilities selling marijuana products would cost $136,900, according to the DEC. The Public Safety Department said it would request three more troopers to investigate tax-evading growers exporting Alaska marijuana outside a tax system.

“Demand for Alaska-grown marijuana is high due to its exceptional THC content,” the report said.

The department would also want $1.4 million to pay for a media campaign warning of the dangers of driving while stoned and to pay for trooper training so they could determine if a driver is high.

The Department of Revenue said it would need a tax auditor, tax technician and investigator to govern any excise tax created by the new law.

The report did not estimate tax revenues generated by legal marijuana. In Colorado, marijuana sales generated $3.5 million in taxes and fees in January.

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Karl Ashenbrenner
Karl Ashenbrenner 03/18/14 - 09:14 am
Why were

the tax revenues not looked at? Colorado estimated tax revenue at 70 million the first year and now is saying that it will be over 100 million. Could it be that our administration does not want to show that tax revenue would far exceed the cost of administrating?

Karl Ashenbrenner
Karl Ashenbrenner 03/18/14 - 09:18 am
1.4 million

to warn of the dangers of driving stoned and to "train" troopers to determine if a driver is "high"???? They already have that training! Troopers are trained at the academy to be able to determine if someone is under the why train again?

Steven Rosales
Steven Rosales 03/18/14 - 07:41 pm

take another look at the way its working in CO. Problem is the companies are collecting taxes for the Feds which HAVE NOT legalized. Banks also will not deal with the smoke shops making them actually illiegally laundering drug money . Easiest thing to do is for the cops and state to turn their heads and accept it. I could care less but seems like most people support legalization.

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