Since the beginning of legalized recreational marijuana use in January 2021, cannabis sales in Arizona for both adult use and recreational use have totaled more than $2.9 billion, according to recent statistics. In particular, the legalized cannabis industry in Northern Arizona is growing and the result is additional well-paid jobs in rural areas, quality products at dispensaries across the state, and improved community services thanks to excise taxes.

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Cannabis Industry Job Growth

Snowflake is about three hours from Phoenix, positioned ideally atop the Colorado Plateau at 5,600 feet above sea level in Navajo County. The town of less than 7,000 people is home to Copperstate Farms, one of the largest greenhouse cannabis producers in North America with 1.7 million square feet of canopy and 40 acres under glass. OnPoint Laboratories, an ISO-accredited and ADHS-certified facility for cannabis compliance testing statewide, also calls Snowflake home.

“We’ve had a presence in Snowflake since 2016 and are one of the town’s biggest employers, providing more than 170 jobs for local residents,” says Tim Nolan, company COO. “Not only do we provide operations-based positions in our greenhouse and processing facility, but over time, we have added a full-scale solventless extraction lab and a hydrocarbon lab. This is in addition to our five dispensaries across the Phoenix metro area that provide dozens of Valley residents with employment as well, including 45 employees at our Tempe distribution center..”

OnPoint Laboratories, also located in Snowflake, is housed in a 10,000 square foot accredited high throughput lab facility that operates seven days a week. The company employs more than 50 people and has expanded advanced-level opportunities for highly skilled professionals in the area. “Our employees are the best in the technical and scientific fields they specialize in, and move to the White Mountains from all reaches of the globe,” says Sam Richard, CEO at OnPoint Labs.

Recently, the company added a SCIEX Triple Quad 6500+ System to its industry-leading collection of instruments, equipment and technology. “Not only do we believe it’s important to invest in our employees, but we continuously invest in our equipment and facilities,” Richard says.

Ally Biotech recently announced its acquisition of the Arizona-based Chill Pill brand, an expansive line of easy-to-swallow THC soft gels. (Photo provided by Ally Biotech)

OnPoint Labs provides compliance testing services as well as in-depth research and development support ranging from soil and water nutrient analysis to onsite visits for environmental and critical control point analysis, education on proper sampling techniques, hop latent viroid detection, gender testing of the cannabis plant, and more.

Located in Tonto National Forest with a population of just over 16,000 residents, Payson is home to Ally Biotech, a cannabis science company behind the Lipofusion delivery technology, considered the next generation of oral delivery technologies for the cannabinoid market.

Like OnPoint Labs, the company provides dozens of high-tech sciences and technology-oriented jobs to Northern Arizona residents, including the hiring of cannabis industry veteran Charles C. Johnson, Ph.D., the company’s new Chief Science Officer. Ally Biotech also recently announced their acquisition of the Arizona-based Chill Pill brand, an expansive line of easy-to-swallow THC soft gels.

Company president, Jim Mackowiak, says that plans are underway to expand the Chill Pill line to include new products that are developed with highly bioavailable custom formulations. The company’s vice president of business development, Francis Baczek, agrees.

“The Chill Pill provides a great delivery system for a consistently accurate dose,” Baczek says. “We are excited to add new products, expand our team, and to bring science and technology to the expansion of business and the brand while also supporting economic development in Payson.”

Cannabis Sales Benefit Northern Arizona Community Services

While the employment opportunities in the Northern Arizona cannabis sector continue to grow, so does the support that comes from excise tax from cannabis sales. These taxes benefit educational institutions, fire and medical services, highway repair, and other social services across the state, including Northern Arizona.

In Arizona, medical marijuana patients pay sales tax on their cannabis purchases with an additional 2% added by local jurisdictions. When it comes to recreational marijuana sales, Arizona collects a 16% tax plus about 6% in sales tax.

From January to December 2022, excise tax from the sale of legalized cannabis brought in $96,953,947, according to a recent Arizona Mirror report. Since passing Proposition 207 in 2020, $74,386,954 in taxes has been collected from both medical and recreational marijuana sales. However, through 2022, the total tax revenue reached an impressive $255,997,918, according to the report.

In Northern Arizona, some examples of these numbers include:

●  More than $1.4 million to Coconino Community College

●  $211,135 to the Sedona Police Department

●  $260,839 to the Flagstaff Police Department

●  $84,422 to the Payson Fire Department

“These numbers show that the sales from the state’s regulated cannabis industry quietly benefit services our Northern Arizona communities need to thrive,” says Fox.

A Growing Sector

The experts at Copperstate Farms, OnPoint Laboratories and Ally Biotech all share that they expect the Northern Arizona cannabis industry to continue expanding – bringing along with it quality jobs, businesses across a variety of verticals, and improved community services thanks to excise taxes.

“From education to safety, taxes from the sales of medical and recreational marijuana help to better Northern Arizona communities and the people living in them,” Nolan says. “Add this to the high-quality jobs cannabis companies bring to the area and we in the industry are excited to see how the Northern Arizona cannabis sector continues to grow.”