WA: Thurston Chamber Says Cannabis Industry Nets About $1M A Month In Taxes

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Legal marijuana has become such a big business locally that the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce dedicated its monthly lunch forum to the topic, filling ballroom space at a west Olympia hotel and inviting two of the biggest players here to talk about their businesses.

Wednesday’s gathering at Hotel RL before about 200 people began with chamber President and Chief Executive David Schaffert acknowledging that not everyone has the same comfort level with cannabis.

“The chamber does recognize this,” he said, adding that it recognizes the public health challenges tied to legal pot, including youth consumption. But at the same time, the industry has had an “increasing economic impact on our community and the state,” Schaffert said.

To bolster his point, Schaffert shared data from the website 502data.com:

• Washington state cannabis sales are set to approach $1 billion by the end of the year.

• Thurston County sales are expected to be about $60 million for the same period.

• Tax revenue for the state through the first half of the year was $104 million; $20 million in July.

• Thurston County tax revenue was $800,000 in July.

That’s one industry generating nearly $1 million a month in tax revenue in the county, Schaffert said.

After that, two of the biggest cannabis businesses in the state, which happen to do business here, took the stage: Tim Foia, chief executive of Artizen Cannabis, a producer/processor in Lacey, and Jerry Derevyanny, general counsel for Northwest Cannabis Solutions, a producer/processor based in Tumwater.

The numbers they shared were equally impressive. Northwest Cannabis employs 157 people and could add another 50, Derevyanny said. The business projects $24 million in revenue by year’s end. He took issue with the state’s sales projections, saying he thinks it could be higher – in the range of $1.3 billion to $1.5 billion.

Meanwhile, Artizen employs about 100 people, Foia said, and generated $740,000 in revenue in July.

“This is an exciting industry,” he said, adding that it’s responsible and he sees it becoming a major job creator. He thanked the county and its jurisdictions for opening the “green” door to them, saying there are some pot-related businesses in Tacoma and Seattle that haven’t opened and continue to jump through bureaucratic hoops.

Despite growth, there still are challenges, Foia and Derevyanny said, including how regulated the industry is.

“The regulations of this industry were built in a vacuum, but we’re no longer in a vacuum,” Foia said. He wants the state Liquor and Cannabis board to address those business regulations and concentrate on the ones designed for public safety.

Both would like to see a change to the federal tax code, which would allow them to take standard business deductions, not just deduct the cost of goods. The inability to do that has been a drag on the bottom line, Derevyanny said.

Still, Foia touted the Northwest, saying if Napa, California, is known for wine, the Northwest could be known for world-class indoor cannabis.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Thurston Chamber Says Cannabis Industry Nets About $1M A Month In Taxes
Author: Rolf Boone
Contact: 360-736-3311
Photo Credit: Tony Overman
Website: The Chronicle