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Recreational marijuana sales remain steady as medical sales plummet

By: - July 11, 2022 8:01 am

Photo by Chuck Grimmett | Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Cannabis sales in Arizona continue to be robust overall, thanks to the continued explosion of recreational sales.

But as adult-use recreational sales are increasing, medical marijuana totals are in a free-fall that began last year.

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The Arizona Department of Revenue reports that recreational cannabis sales were almost $75.5 million — which would have been an increase of nearly $3 million over the previous month if not for an $8 million upward revision of March totals.

Given that increase, March’s $80.4 million in sales became the best month since adult-use recreational sales began in January 2021.

On the medical side, sales declined for the sixth consecutive month, dropping to slightly less than $47 million. It is only the second time medical sales have been less than $50 million since recreational sales began.

Total sales for both programs in April were $122.4 million. After the revisions, March’s total sales figure jumped from $121.7 million to $134.3 million, the best month since recreational sales began. The previous high came in April 2021 at $133 million.

The Arizona Department of Health Service, which oversees both marijuana programs in the state, publishes monthly reports on the medical marijuana program that track the number of registered patients and sales of medical cannabis in pounds, ounces and the number of transactions.

The most recent report for April 2022 shows sales fluctuating, but in overall decline.

There were 212,083 licensed patients reported in April (down to 191,682 in the most recent report), who purchased less than 8,000 pounds of medical marijuana in various forms through fewer than 500,000 transactions. In January, that number was nearly 10,000 pounds sold in almost 600,000 transactions.

While medical sales continue to decline, tax revenues for recreational sales are robust. Total tax revenues for medical and recreational sales in April were $22.5 million, almost evenly split between the 16% marijuana excise tax on recreational sales and the sales tax charged in both programs.

Local jurisdictions also charge an additional 2% or so for all marijuana sales.

Proposition 207, approved by voters in 2020, legalized adult use of cannabis and specified public use for taxes collected on recreational sales. One-third is dedicated to community college and provisional community college districts; 31% to public safety — police, fire departments, fire districts, first responders — 25% to the Arizona Highway User Revenue Fund, and 10% to the justice reinvestment fund, dedicated to providing public health services, counseling, job training and other social services for communities that have been adversely affected and disproportionately impacted by marijuana arrests and criminalization.

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David Abbott
David Abbott

David Abbott is a freelance journalist living in Tucson. He originally came to Tucson while serving in the Air Force from 1978 to 1982, but left to seek his fortunes in California where his passion for journalism took hold. His editorial career has taken him from Northern California to rural Arizona as a writer, editor and newspaper production manager for several weekly newspapers, magazines and assorted publications. After accepting a position as editor of the Arizona Silver Belt in Globe in 2018, he returned to Tucson the following year to enjoy the mountains and write about cannabis and community news.

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