By Steve Elliott
Millions of dollars in state tax revenue would be generated if Alaska's voters decide in next week's election to legalize marijuana sales to adults, according to a comprehensive report released on Monday by the Marijuana Policy Group, made up of Colorado researchers and economic experts.
The first year of recreational cannabis sales in Alaska would generate about $7 million in state taxes, according to the group, reports Matt Ferner at The Huffington Post. Legal recreational sales of marijuana would account for about 22 percent of total demand in that first year, about four metric tons, according to the report.
"Previous studies incorrectly assume that all demand will quickly shift to regulated markets," the researchers noted. "In our experience, such assumptions are naive." That conclusion would certainly jibe with the legalization experience in Washington state, where scant supplies have driven prices past $30 a gram and have driven many consumers back to the black market.
"If retail prices increase significantly, then most heavy users will avoid this supply mode and buy marijuana from black or grey market sources as possible," the researchers wrote.
Adult Alaskans use nearly 18 metric tons of marijuana, according to the researchers, a demand which is now satisfied through the state's black market, as well as a network of medical marijuana caregivers and home cultivators.