On the same day that voters in Kenai and Fairbanks enthusiastically cast votes supporting Alaska’s legal marijuana industry, the Alaska Department of Revenue reported new record-high sales.
In August, according to figures released by the department’s tax division, the state collected $694,364 in marijuana taxes. That’s the most ever collected in a month by the state, and it’s the sixth consecutive month that the state has set a new record for wholesale marijuana sales.
According to the state, 734 pounds of marijuana bud (or flower) was sold by farms to retail stores in August. Four hundred and forty-four pounds of other cannabis plant parts were also sold during the month.
Under state law, state tax is paid when marijuana is sold or transferred from a grower to a cultivator.
Fifty-six marijuana farms paid taxes during the month, up from 46 in July.
Fourteen of those farms were in Fairbanks and three in North Pole. On Tuesday, the Fairbanks North Star Borough rejected a commercial marijuana ban by an overwhelming margin: 70 percent of Election Day voters said they wanted to keep the commercial industry going.
The Kenai Peninsula Borough, which has about a dozen farms, reaffirmed its support of the commercial marijuana industry by a similar margin.
It is not clear what impact Alaska’s relative handful of outdoor marijuana farms will have on tax collection and the industry. Most of Alaska’s growers cultivate marijuana indoors, but outdoor farms are much larger.
Fall is harvest time for the marijuana industry as it is for other agriculture in Alaska, though there is a lag between harvest and sale because of time needed to cure the crop and package it.
Kelly Mazzei, excise tax director for the Alaska Department of Revenue, said by email that the state expects over $700,000 in taxes collected during September when final figures arrive.
“I do not attribute this growth to the state’s outdoor grows, so we could see a radical spike in tax collections later this year still,” she wrote.
• Contact reporter James Brooks at email@example.com or call 523-2258.