Arizona Sold $75.5 Million Worth of Legal Weed in April as Medical Cannabis Sales Slump
Adult-use sales are pretty much holding steady, but medical cannabis purchases have been tanking since recreational stores opened for business.
Published on July 14, 2022

Arizona's adult-use cannabis industry sold nearly $76 million worth of legal bud this April, a slight comedown from March's record high.

These figures come as a bit of a surprise, given that April is generally a banner month for adult-use sales. In most states, cannabis sales dip to their lowest point in the first quarter of the year, but pick up again in April as people stock up for 4/20 celebrations. This trend held true for Arizona last year, when adult-use and medical dispensaries sold $133 million worth of legal pot – the largest monthly total reported since recreational sales began in January 2021.

Dispensaries finally broke last year's record this March, with $134.3 million in total legal cannabis sales. The state Department of Revenue initially reported $72 million in adult-use sales that month, but recently revised that total up to $80.4 million. In April, adult-use sales dipped back slightly to $75.5 million. The revenue department generally updates these monthly totals as last-minute sales reports roll in, though, so there's a chance that April's total may also end up getting revised upward.

Even if April's adult-use sales didn't break another record, they still stayed consistent with overall average monthly totals. But although the recreational market is holding strong, medical marijuana sales have been in a constant state of decline. Last summer, the state's dispensaries were selling around $65 million worth of medicine a month, but those totals started declining last fall.

Arizona's medical cannabis sales have dropped consistently for six consecutive months now. This March, sales fell to $49.4 million, the first time that the monthly total dipped below $50 million since adult-use sales began. And in April, that total shrunk to under $47 million. Patients bought less than 8,000 pounds of medical pot that month, down from nearly 10,000 pounds this January. Medical sales are likely to decline even further, since the total number of registered patients dropped to 191,682 this month, down from 212,083 in April.

The shift in market share from medical to adult-use sales is actually great news for the state, though. Medical marijuana purchases are exempt from any taxes beyond the 5.5% state sales tax, but adult-use shoppers need to cough up a 16% excise tax and a 2% local tax on top of the regular sales tax. In total, the state revenue department raked in $22.5 million in tax revenue this April, even more than the $21.3 million collected in March.

A third of this tax revenue goes directly to the state's ten community college districts. Last year’s record $1.2 billion in legal weed sales brought the state $218 million in tax revenue, $31 million of which was disbursed to these school districts this year. Another 31% of the state's pot taxes go directly to cops, fire departments, and first responders, and another quarter goes to the state's highway revenue fund. The remaining 10% funds justice reinvestment programs which provide public health, counseling, job training, and other essential services for marginalized communities.

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Chris Moore
Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.
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