This is the year Alaska’s legal marijuana industry will finally be up and running. Once it is, all commercial growers will have to pay taxes to the State of Alaska.
The proposal on the table is $50 an once for buds and flowers, and $15 an ounce for the rest of the plant.
The state’s tax division recently unveiled how it plans to collect marijuana taxes from cultivators and those in the cannabis industry are not happy.
Because marijuana isn’t legal at the federal level, Alaska growers will have no access to bank accounts, making it impossible to pay taxes online or at a local branch.
The state believes the best way to collect taxes would be to have payees deliver cash to a single deposit box located at the Atwood Building in downtown Anchorage. Under the proposed plan, growers would be required to make monthly cash deliveries.
“The banks here in Alaska have all said they are not going to touch the marijuana money,” said Brandon Spanos, Tax Division Deputy Director for the Alaska Dept. of Revenue.
Spanos said the proposed deposit box would be located on the first floor of the Atwood Building, and the state would likely spend $50,000 to $100,000 in installation and security.
He said the state has looked at several options for how to handle the new revenue source, including a possible online payment system.
Initially, the tax division wanted to send carriers to pick up cash from every cultivation facility in the state. Spanos said, in the end, that was just too expensive.
“I know this is a hot topic and people aren’t excited to hear it, said Spanos. “If they are in a rural community, if they are in Juneau or somewhere where they are going to have to fly in or drive a long distance.”
Industry representatives say it’s not fair to ask all of the state’s growers to travel to Anchorage to pay the tax.
“My first reaction was disbelief,” Kim Kole with the Coalition for Responsible Cannabis Legislation said.
Kole says the state can expect a lawsuit if things don’t change.