Alaska marijuana sales set another record

State tax revenue nears $1 million per month

Brothers James and Giono Barrett, owners of Rainforest Farms, arrange a display of their cannabis products at their retail store in Juneau on Monday, Dec. 4, 2017. The brothers just celebrated the one year anniversary of their business. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

For Gallery Walk, the owners of Rainforest Farms decided to throw a party celebrating one year in business.

 

There were special products and live music, but owners James and Giono Barrett ran out of time to complete a collage of the media coverage the business has received in the past 12 months. Things were just too busy, an employee said.

For Alaska’s marijuana industry, things have certainly been busy. On Friday, the Alaska Department of Revenue disclosed the state received almost $1 million in marijuana tax revenue during the month of October. Tax collectors pocketed $953,591, a new single-month record for the state, which saw 1,004 pounds of marijuana flower (bud) sold by farms to retailers. Another 626 pounds of other plant parts were also sold.

Flower is taxed at $50 per ounce; trim at $15 per ounce. Trim is typically processed into other products, rather than sold over the counter.

October marked the one-year anniversary of Alaska’s first retail marijuana sale, which took place in Fairbanks. The state’s first retail stores began operating in the last days of that month. In the ensuing 12 months, the state has collected $4.7 million in tax revenue, and municipalities have collected millions more. Municipal figures are not yet available.

Juneau now has four taxpaying marijuana farms; the state as a whole has 66, according to figures from the tax division of the department of Revenue.

Kelly Mazzei, excise tax director for the state, said by email that preliminary numbers indicate tax collections will dip slightly when November figures are finalized at the start of January.

Three new businesses approved

Alaska’s marijuana control board, which gathered in Anchorage for a pair of November meetings, has approved three new Juneau marijuana licenses.

Norvin Perez is the listed owner for Green Valley Enterprises, Glacier Valley Shop, and Southeast Essentials.

According to the licenses approved by the board, Green Valley Enterprises will be a marijuana farm, Glacier Valley Shop will be a retail store, and Southeast Essentials will manufacture marijuana products. All three businesses will be located at 8505 Old Dairy Road.

Adam Gray, general manager of the three businesses, said by phone that the goal is to open the retail shop in January with wholesaled marijuana, begin harvesting in April or May, and open the product manufacturing business at a later date.

Juneau has four other active marijuana businesses: Rainforest Farms, Fireweed Factory, Green Elephant, and Top Hat. All four are vertically integrated. They operate their own farms and retail stores or manufacturing facilities.

Two farms, two retail stores, a marijuana testing laboratory and a product manufacturer have also been approved for Juneau but have not yet passed their final inspections or received their licenses, according to a listing kept by the Alaska Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office.

AMCO issues edible warning

On Friday, AMCO issued its first consumer alert in the one-year history of legal recreational marijuana sales here.

In an official statement, AMCO director Erika McConnell said most edibles manufactured by Frozen Budz of Fairbanks were not tested for contaminants or potency. Retailers have been ordered to stop selling them, and AMCO is investigating how the products reached shelves.

“The products are labeled as having 5 mg of THC per serving, but in reality, each serving may have a great deal more THC,” McConnell said. “Additionally, the products have not been tested for contaminants such as bacteria, fungus, or mold. Consumers who have purchased products made by Frozen Budz should be aware.”

Some Frozen Budz products were available in Juneau, retailers told the Empire.


• Contact reporter James Brooks at james.k.brooks@juneauempire.com or call 523-2258.


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