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Alaskans react to Washington’s retail pot profits

By Charlo Greene Photojournalist: Nick Swann - 7:47 PM July 14, 2014

More than $140,000 in taxes in just three days, courtesy of cannabis.

“There were probably between 300-400 pounds of product out there during the opening day of sale and everybody is pretty much sold out,” said Philip Tobias, canna-business insider and owner/director of Sea of Green Farms, one of Washington’s first licensed cultivation facilities.

News of Washington state’s recreational marijuana tax revenues has been making the rounds in Alaska.

“It’s here. People are using it. We have the highest user rates in the country, so whether you personally like marijuana or not, I think Alaskans recognize this industry belongs in the hands of the private sector, responsible businesses rather than criminals,” said Taylor Bickford with the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Alaska.

The recreational pot taxes received and projections released by Washington and Colorado can be misleading, according to Deborah Williams with the anti-marijuana legalization campaign.

“The revenues are significantly less than the cost the state projects, especially when you look at all the additional costs that would come up,” Williams said.

The “Big Marijuana. Big Mistake. Vote No on 2.” team says taxes on recreational weed won’t cover the $3.7 to $7 million the state says it will cost to implement the initiative. But Williams says their figures are only assumptions.

“[It's] all we can do, because you must base your projections on something,” Williams said.

Tobias says while Alaska’s proposed marijuana tax rate of $50 per ounce differs from Colorado and Washington’s 25 percent marijuana tax rate, he believes the 49th state can expect a major windfall if the supply is there.

“$100,000 of product we sell, that’s $25,000 going to the state, plus another $25,000 when it’s sold. So the state is getting $50,000 out of that $100,000 worth of product,” Tobias said.

The state has not released any projections on how much cash they believe regulating marijuana could bring Alaska.

Will the potential for a new revenue stream lead to recreational weed in Alaska? Voters decide on Nov. 4.


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