Its been over three years since recreational marijuana was legalized in Arizona.

In that time, much has changed: There are more dispensaries and products for consumers to choose from and customers don’t need a medical recommendation to purchase their pot.

Oh, and the state is raking in the tax money. On the over $1 billion in sales of recreational weed last year, Arizona brought in over $200 million in taxes.

Honestly, we think its an outstanding year, especially when we look at the benefits to the communities, said Nico Ramon Nieves-Quiroz, communications director for Southern Arizona NORML, a cannabis consumer advocacy group. “Especially at the rate we tax cannabis, a good portion will go to the necessary areas.”

KGUN 9 took a look at how taxes on recreational weed work in Arizona, and found that each recreational purchase made is subject to a 16% excise tax. In other words, a purchase of $100 carries a tax of $16.

Since the state started its recreational marijuana program in Janauary 2021, the 16% excise tax is responsible for bringing in over $350 million to state coffers.

Here’s how the dollars are split up and where they go:

33% goes to community college districts… 31.4% is awarded to local police and fire departments… 25.4% is given to the highway user revenue fund… 10% goes to the Arizona department of health services… And 0.2% goes to the attorney general to administer and enforce the program.

The funds are then distributed to local and state agencies in two lump sum payments during the year, once on June 30 and another on December 31.

For consumer advocates, like NORML, the fact tax dollars from the program are injected into agencies that help Arizona communities is extremely important.

A good portion will go to the necessary areas in our communities, for infrastructure in our cities,” Nieves-Quiroz said. “So for us seeing that record number is, honestly, breathtaking.

Although Arizonas program isnt perfect, Nieves-Quiroz added other states might want to pay attention to how it distributes its tax dollars to benefit communities that have been hard-hit by the war on drugs.

We could at least really focus on showing other states as well the benefits as well, not only with its medical purposes, but also its economic purposes, Nieves-Quiroz said.