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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Medical marijuana sales are proving to be icing on the state's revenue cake nearly two years after the first dispensaries opened in Arkansas.

  • The Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration reported $330.4 million of statewide medical marijuana sales — more than 48,914 pounds — as of June 3.
  • That adds to the state's projected surplus revenue of nearly $1 billion.
  • NWA's four dispensaries alone have collectively sold 28.3% of the total volume in that time, more than 13,850 pounds.

Why it matters: Northwest Arkansas has become a key driver of the state's medical marijuana industry and of the sales tax revenue Arkansas collects on each purchase.

Data: Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration. Chart: Axios Visuals

By the numbers: Arkansas collects 10.5% of pot sales purchased for medicinal reasons.

  • A 6.5% state tax goes to general revenue and state government.
  • A 4% privilege tax goes to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, specifically for the establishment of a National Cancer Institute.

Statewide, sales have generated more than $31.7 million in taxes as of March.

  • Data only go through March due to the lag time in reporting.
  • NWA buyers have paid nearly $9 million in tax on cannabis.

The big picture: Advocates and lawmakers favoring marijuana reform are trying to capitalize on the social justice movement and COVID-19 economic rebound to legalize the use of pot nationally, Axios' Alayna Treene reported recently.

What's next: Five more dispensaries are licensed but not yet open in Arkansas, including one licensed to operate in Fayetteville.

  • The Source, now located in Bentonville, is planning a move to Rogers to expand the business.

Go deeper

Jun 9, 2021 - Health

Washington state announces free marijuana joint for COVID vaccine incentive

Photo: David Ryder/Getty Images

Washington state marijuana retailers can now offer adult consumers a free joint if they get vaccinated against COVID-19 in the store.

The big picture: The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board announced Monday it was providing a "temporary allowance" to state-licensed cannabis retailers through July 12 for the incentive.

Go deeper: States deploy carrots to drive up coronavirus vaccination rates

Report: The 25 richest Americans paid $13.6 billion in income taxes over five years, a small amount of their wealth

Photos of Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Warren Buffett and Michael Bloomberg. Photos, from left to right: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images; Hannibal Hanschke/Pool/Getty Images; Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage; Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The collective worth for the 25 richest Americans rose $401 billion from 2014 to 2018, but they only paid a total of $13.6 billion in federal income taxes, according to a ProPublica report based on confidential IRS tax data.

Why it matters: The analysis found that billionaires like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Warren Buffett and Michael Bloomberg "were able to benefit from a complex web of loopholes in the tax code," the New York Times notes.

Updated Jun 8, 2021 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on the future of Northwest Arkansas

On Tuesday, June 8, Axios NW Arkansas reporters Alex Golden and Worth Sparkman discussed the future of the region, looking at housing development, local post-pandemic recovery and the impact on the community, featuring Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.) and University of Arkansas Center for Business and Economic Research director Mervin Jebaraj.

Rep. Steve Womack discussed negotiations between President Biden and Republicans over the infrastructure bill, underscoring the importance of bridges and roads.

  • On Republican priorities for the bill: "The administration is going have to come to the table and agree that if we're going to get an infrastructure bill out, we're going to need to make sure that it primarily deals with what we believe is traditional infrastructure, and that's roads and bridges, moving people, water, wastewater."

Mervin Jebaraj unpacked economic trends in the region, as well as the housing and commercial real estate market.

  • On real estate trends: "We haven't seen a whole lot of softness in the lease rates for commercial space so far, with vacancy rates staying fairly level...We've seen materials prices go up across the board that has been before. The pandemic was already an issue with labor supply. So we're expecting to continue to see higher lease rates, especially for the nicely finished out spaces."

Axios co-founder and CEO Jim VandeHei hosted a View from the Top segment with Runway Group co-founder Steuart Walton who discussed the economic potential in Northwest Arkansas.

  • "We're long on northwest Arkansas as a place to invest and we're really excited about the potential here. In that region is one of the fastest-growing regions in the country, but people might not know it because it's a sort of a collection of small and midsize towns."

Thank you Northwest Arkansas Council for sponsoring this event.