With more cultivators coming online, Alaska's marijuana industry hits new tax highs

Published: Aug. 30, 2017 at 10:35 PM AKDT
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Marijuana tax revenues continue to break state records, with projections for the month of July expected to yield the most money from cannabis cultivators to date.

According to the Alaska Department of Revenue, the state anticipates collecting around $571,000 for July, bringing the tax total since legalization to more than $2.3 million.

Six new cultivators came online in July, a gradual trend that’s driving a growing tax base.

“The process is taking a lot longer [than expected,]” said cultivation director for The Frost Frontier Evan Schlosberg, whose cannabis grow operation is one of the many in the industry that’s been working months behind the scenes just to get to the starting line.

Schlosberg celebrated his first sale on Tuesday, reaching a deal with a marijuana retail shop in Spenard. He said despite the high demand for cannabis in the state, it's been a bumpy road for himself, and many other Anchorage cultivators, to make it to market.

“As you navigate these problems, the solutions are months away,” explained Schlosberg, saying there’s a learning curve to opening a new agriculture-based business.

On Wednesday, the Anchorage Assembly renewed the licenses of a number of cultivation and retail facilities, including The Frost Frontier, without issue. The process of getting the industry to meet consumer demand, although slow, received high marks and continued support from assembly members during the meeting.

“I am very pleased with how responsible the industry has been,” said assembly member Tim Steele, echoing the praise of assembly member Eric Croft.

It’s been more than a year since the first cultivation license was presented by the municipality, and still only about a dozen growing facilities are listed as active and operating in Anchorage.

Alaska's marijuana market is a work in progress, with the Alaska Department of Revenue saying it will continue to grow in the coming year.

For Schlosberg, he said after months of stress, it comes as some relief that his business is finding its footing.

“I'm excited to have my work out there, people will be able to try it and consume five years of my life's work,” said Schlosberg.

But still he worries, unless he can continue to provide marijuana to retail shops at a rapid pace, his marijuana facility may be buried under fees, taxes and bills.