Arizona's adult-use retailers made $72.3 million in sales this March, the largest amount of recreational pot that the state has ever sold. According to the state Department of Revenue, the adult-use market has rebounded after a brief slump this January, adding at least $2 million in sales per month in February and March.
But as adult-use sales have been growing, medical pot sales have been falling. In March 2021, Arizona dispensaries sold almost $73 million worth of medical cannabis – more than adult-use retailers sold this March. Over the next 6 months, medical sales held steady at around $65 million a month, but starting last October, sales began to drop by at least $1.5 million a month. By March, medical sales fell to $49.4 million – the first time that monthly sales have fallen below $50 million since January 2021.
Other adult-use states have seen their medical marijuana markets decline as their recreational markets grow. In Michigan, adult-use sales grew by 60% from April 2021 to April 2022, but medical sales fell by 44% over that same time period. Fortunately, the growth of recreational sales more than made up for the decline in medical sales, and the state ended up selling a record $195 million worth of legal bud last month. And Montana has already seen its medical pot market decline slightly since adult-use sales went live this January.
Arizona's new cannabis industry report also notes that February's monthly sales were a bit higher than estimated. The state's adult-use market actually sold $71 million, $2.3 million more than the previous estimate suggested. Medical marijuana sales were also adjusted upward by $1.2 million, bringing that total to $53.7 million. All told, the state sold $123.8 million worth of legal cannabis in February, slightly more than March's combined $121.8 million in sales.
These record sales are also bringing the state record tax revenue. As of March, Arizona now makes three times more tax revenue from legal weed than it does from alcohol and tobacco combined. The combined 16% cannabis excise tax and 5.5% state sales tax brought in $21.3 million in March, more than triple the $5.4 million in booze and cigarette taxes collected that same month. Most other adult-use states also now make more money from weed than they do from booze.
A third of Arizona's total cannabis excise tax revenue is distributed to state community colleges, and another 31% goes to police, fire departments, and first responders. A further 25% goes to the state highway revenue fund, and 10% goes to the justice reinvestment fund, which provides funding for public health, counseling, job training and other social services for communities that have been disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition.
“The legalization of cannabis in Arizona has been a boon for our economy and the state tax coffers,” said Arizona Dispensary Association Executive Director Sam Richard to the Arizona Mirror. “The financial benefits are important but the social impact cannot be understated, as citizens no longer have to live in fear of having their lives disrupted by low level marijuana arrests and convictions.”