It’s been almost four years since we became the third state to legalize marijuana and about two years since the first dispensaries opened. But, in this past year, the pot industry has really begun to blossom.

In the last fiscal year that ended in June, the state collected more than $11 million in tax revenue-- $2 million more than projected. And it's growing every month.

Collected from 100 businesses, compared to 45 just a year ago, there are now 65 licensed dispensaries-- or pot shops in Alaska-- 22 of which are in Anchorage alone. That’s what the statistics tells us.

They also tell us that Alaskans love weed.

Forty percent of Alaskans between 18 and 25 report having used pot over the course of a year-- and that’s a survey from 2015.

It should come as no surprise that Alaska is number 1 when it comes to the percentage of people who use marijuana on a per capita basis.

What’s a little surprising is that Alaskans use marijuana at a rate twice as “high” as the national average.

In fact, when you crunch the numbers, that’s a customer base of more than 110,000 Alaskans who have used marijuana in the past year. That doesn’t include summer tourists.

And that’s a healthy base upon which to build a business.

The marijuana industry just might be Alaska’s Microsoft, and the first investors considered visionaries.

I’m not being critical. I failed to invest in Microsoft, too.

What’s remarkable to me is how much a red state has embraced such a green industry.

In fact, the biggest challenge for pot businesses these days is what to do with all the cash they’re generating. Because you still can’t open a bank account for a business that’s illegal on a federal level-- and that won’t change for, I’d say, two to six years.

In the meantime, maybe the marijuana industry will lead us out of this recession, and even if it doesn’t, it’s apparently taking the edge off for a lot of Alaskans.

John's opinions are his own and are not necessarily those of Denali Media or its employees.

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