Pot producers and retailers in county generating millions in tax revenue

If the state legislators are trying to figure out how to fully fund education they might look at all the tax revenue being generated in the state since marijuana became legal. Just look at Okanogan County, which has only three retailers, yet boasts 91 producer/processors, according to the website 502data.com. The data for the Sage Shop in Omak says they have paid $638,283 in taxes, 4Us Retail in Okanogan, $344,420 and Austin Lott in Winthrop, $236,705. Those seem to be pretty good numbers for any small business. The website says Okanogan County producers had the highest sales in the state in November with $1.6 million. That’s nearly double of the next largest, Chelan County, which had $828,143 in sales.

Web-Editorial-Gary-MugRetail sales for our three shops have totaled $3 million — hard to believe when we have a population of less than 50,000 people. But where the really big numbers come into play are for sales from producers and processors. Since pot became legal to grow and sell to retail stores in Washington State, Okanogan County’s processors have sold $13 million worth and the producers have added $11 million. The processors had sales of $8 million in 2016 alone, twice as much as generated in 2015. The producers sold $6 million in 2016, three times the previous year’s sales and marijuana retailers doubled their 2015 sales to $2 million in 2016. Since 2014 the industry in the county has paid nearly $2 million in excise tax.

Cannosol Farms near Riverside seems to lead all the Producer/Processors in the county with sales of $4,126,194, while Victory Cannabis Wa of Twisp had sales of $1,088,656, K&M Growers of Tonasket sold $962,870 and Skye High of Riverside sold $667,357. Most of the others are much smaller with sales ranging from a low of $187 to about half a million dollars.

In addition to K&M, farms in the Tonasket and Oroville area, many of them with names unique to the industry, include Howling Dog Farms, Ravens Keep, The Green Company, Soma Farms, Sun Grown Organix, Tonasket Growers, Turtle Lake Enterprises, Urban Farms of Washington, Sweetgrass, Okanogan High Country Products, Pickens Mountain Cannibis, Lily of the Valley Gardens, Blue Dog Seeds, Tonasket High Country, Abilene Productions LLC, Alon, Ananda Washington, Archangel Botanicals, Bluegrass, Canna Verde, Capital Green, Continental Holdings III, Crescent Valley Farms, Empire, Flourish Farms, Grass Valley Products, Green Force Pharms, Ground Up Cultivation, Landrace, Miller Marijuana Farms, Mj Pharms, Mns – Pnp, Moonlit Farm, Morelli Enterprises, Pams Plants, Quantum Capital Advisors, Sideways Green. Who knew? It seems like you can’t drive anywhere in the North Okanogan without spotting one of those tall fences that scream out — pot farm, or is that now spelled pot pharm?

It makes you wonder what all the old time, pre-legalization pot farmers think of all this. Or has their expertise been put to new use in this new legal industry?

Only time will tell how long this influx of cash will continue in Okanogan County — if the federal government leaves the states that have legalized marijuana production and retail sales alone it might continue to double and triple. If they decide to crack down and take a hard line then it could all collapse.

In talking with people both inside and outside the industry there seems to be a variety of opinions about what would happen if the federal government made it legal throughout the country. Some feel that it could put our local growers out of business if they had to compete with states like California where the sun seem to always shine. As long as it isn’t legal to transport across interstate lines, our state and county growers should still be able to make the green. Even if that does change and the whole country agrees to make it legal, many seem to feel that the states that were early into the business will still have the advantage.

What once was supposed to be the county’s real top cash crop, illegal marijuana, might be the top crop again — this time with the state’s blessing.