Summer marijuana boom continues with sales high

In just one month, the state of Alaska has collected a third of the marijuana tax revenue it recouped in the entire last fiscal year.

On Thursday, the Alaska Department of Revenue reported collecting $577,901 from marijuana farmers in July. In fiscal year 2017, which ended June 30, the state collected $1.7 million from the marijuana industry.

July’s figures are the highest to date for Alaska’s young marijuana industry, which began selling over the counter in October last year. State taxes are collected from farms at the wholesale level, rather than at the retail level.

Alaska collects $50 per ounce of bud or flower and $15 per ounce for other parts of the cannabis plant, such as the stems or leaves.

In July, the state reported 612 pounds of marijuana bud sold, and 369 pounds of “trim,” or other parts, sold. Trim is typically refined into concentrates used in edible products or smoked outright on its own.

Fairbanks, the Golden Heart City, continues to be Alaska’s green heart as well: 12 farms paid state taxes in July, the most of any place in the state. Anchorage, which has gotten off to a slow start because of difficulties at the municipal level, now reports seven farms, the second-most in the state. Soldotna is third with four farms, and Juneau is tied for fourth with multiple cities having three farms.

While July’s marijuana sales were the most to date for Alaska, they remain below state expectations. In fiscal year 2017, the state expected $2 million in revenue but fell short. In fiscal year 2018, the state expects $10.6 million in marijuana tax revenue, or an average of $883,000 per month.

Excise tax supervisor Kalley Mazzei, who oversees the marijuana tax collections, said she expects sales to increase still further when August figures are published on the first day of October.

No outdoor marijuana farms reported sales in July, “but it shouldn’t be much longer before we start seeing those crops make their way to market,” Mazzei said.

Contact reporter James Brooks at james.k.brooks@juneauempire.com or call 523-2258.

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