In February 2015, Alaska became one of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana with a 53% vote in favor of the drug. Even though cannabis was made legal in the state, it took another year for Alaska to approve cannabis retail stores and manufacturers. Now, since the state has approved full legalization, the industry has grown, affecting Alaska’s economy in a number of ways.
First, every year Alaska welcomes more than two million visitors and tourists who spend an annual $2 billion, so marijuana shop owners are trying to take a cut from these cruise ship passengers. Unfortunately, marijuana possession and consumption is illegal on the ship itself, so dispensaries encourage visitors to consume while they can in Alaska. As a result of all these sales, marijuana tax revenue reached just over $1.2 million when cannabis grower taxes were collected, which was the highest of any single month since commercial sales began in October 2016. Though this number is high, the state predicted it would collect $2 million in the fiscal year, so the revenue missed the mark, but experts expect sales to increase. Some predict revenue will increase when outdoor growing operations make their first harvest, so the Alaska marijuana economy and industry is expected to grow.