Kenai Peninsula pot businesses may add $5M boost to economy

  • By The Associated Press
  • Friday, February 17, 2017 10:48am
  • News

KENAI — With several marijuana businesses up and running on the Kenai Peninsula in south-central Alaska, industry estimates show the businesses could contribute $5.3 million annually to the local economy.

Eight marijuana businesses have opened on the peninsula since last summer and nine more are planned. Of those businesses, two are retail stores and the rest are cultivators, The Peninsula Clarion reported (http://bit.ly/2ldfFw3).

Dollynda Phelps of cultivation company Peace Frog Botanicals presented a survey of current licensees to the Kenai Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday. The survey estimating the impact of the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s cannabis industry shows businesses could bring the peninsula more than $5 million annually in taxes and spending on infrastructure and compliance.

The peninsula’s two retail stores may generate about $218,000 in sales taxes each year that will go toward borough schools, Phelps said.

“Every single penny generated from this sales tax in the borough goes directly to the borough school district,” she said. “So I think this is a wonderful number, and of course this will rise as well as we see more growth in the industry.”

The Kenai Peninsula’s marijuana businesses have also created 46 jobs, and another 30 employees are expected to be hired in the upcoming year, according to the survey.

The peninsula’s Peace Frog Botanicals and Greatland Ganja were two of the first pot businesses in the state to get their licenses. Their products are being sold in a variety of stores around the state.

Cultivators statewide have contributed about $145,800 to the state coffers through December 2016, according to the Alaska Department of Revenue. Four of those cultivators were on the Kenai Peninsula.

But the peninsula’s growing pot industry also faces an electoral challenge this year. Phelps said an October ballot measure to ban commercial marijuana operations in the borough outside cities that failed to appear on last year’s ballot would shutter 16 of the 17 business licensees’ operations.

“We will lose 46 jobs and all the finances I’ve described . it is very important that we take a look at this in a factual way and evaluate our situation,” she said.

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