Article by James Brooks, Alaska Journal of Commerce
The State of Alaska will collect its first marijuana taxes this month, but records from the Alaska Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office show the nascent industry has already paid more than three quarters of a million dollars in fees since the first license requests were filed in 2015.
According to the results of a public records request filed by the Juneau Empire, marijuana retailers, testing labs, manufacturers and growers paid $341,512.50 in fees between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016. From July 1 through Nov. 1 this year, they paid another $428,144.
“We’re really happy to be able to be above-board and contributing to the state at a time where we’re absolutely strapped for cash,” said Cary Carrigan, executive director of the Alaska Marijuana Industry Association, which represents businesses across the state.
Those figures only tell part of the story, however. The Alaska Department of Commerce and Community Development, which oversees AMCO, has stated that it wants to make the department completely self-funded with fees by fiscal year 2020, which starts in July 1, 2019.
“I think we’re on track,” said Cynthia Franklin, director of AMCO.
In Fiscal Year 2017, which started July 1, the state provided $1.5 million in startup funds to pay for marijuana regulation. That came atop $700,000 in the previous fiscal year.
Even if fee applications continue at the present pace, AMCO won’t make enough in fees to cover that bill.