• March 4, 2021

Arizona Recreational Marijuana Sales Begin in Record Time

 Arizona Recreational Marijuana Sales Begin in Record Time

By Varun Yadav

Arizona marijuana sales for the adult-use market officially began on Friday, after state officials began notifying retail business license applicants that they’d been approved.

The launch comes just weeks after voters in the state overwhelmingly passed a cannabis legalization initiative during November’s election. This marks the fastest transition from voter-approval to sales implementation of any state that has legalized marijuana to date.

Under the measure, regulators were required to quickly develop rules for the market. Industry stakeholders say they’ve had productive conversations with the Department of Health Services to create those guidelines over the past few weeks.

The department released two draft versions of its proposed regulations and then, earlier this month, began accepting applications for recreational business licenses. This first round of approvals is for existing medical marijuana dispensaries that have already gone through Arizona state’s prior licensing process.

“ADHS has received 79 applications since the application period began early Wednesday,” the department said in a press release. “Six of those applications remain under review,” meaning that 73 facilities can now begin adult-use cannabis sales. (A list of those stores is at the bottom of this story.)

Those who aren’t currently operating a medical marijuana shop can still apply for an adult-use license during this first round if they plan to operate in a county with two or less existing dispensaries. Applications for those who aren’t eligible in this phase will be open soon and are expected to be approved starting in the spring.

Samuel Richard, executive director of the Arizona Dispensaries Association, said that the “dedicated focus and professionalism of our regulators have really played out here in an incredible way.”

“We had overwhelming support in November — a three to two margin, 60-40 percent. We got over the finish line,” he said. “It’s great to see that our regulators responded to that overwhelming support by working as fast as they can to get the infrastructure in place to allow the two million Arizonans that voted ‘yes’ for Prop 207 to start to enjoy the benefits of legal, adult-use cannabis.”

Legalization advocates are cheering the state for its expediency in getting the recreational marijuana market off the ground.

Matthew Schweich, deputy director at the Marijuana Policy Project, said that it is “encouraging to see Arizona move forward with implementation of the legalization policy approved by voters in November. By avoiding unnecessary delays, Arizona will accelerate the timeline for job creation, business investment, and new tax revenue,” he said.

“I commend state officials for prioritizing the implementation of Prop. 207 and ensuring that Arizona adults have safe and convenient access to affordable marijuana in a timely manner,” said NORML State Policies Coordinator Carly Wolf. “Voters were crystal clear on their mandate at the ballot box: end the failed policy of criminalization and replace it with a legal pragmatic regulatory framework as soon as possible.”

“It’s time to stop ceding control and revenue of the marijuana market to unregulated and untaxed enterprises in order to eliminate the risks associated with an illicit market,” she said,

The rules for the adult-use market took effect on January 15. They cover licensing fees, the timeline for approvals, the structure of the regulatory body, product labeling, public safety protocols and more. Many of the changes from prior draft regulations were technical, but there was one notable change concerning credentialing for cannabis workers.

Rather than being credentialed for one specific facility, the worker registration was expanded so that they could be certified to be employed at any cannabis operation in the industry.

While these rules are in place for the newly approved retailers, Richard said regulators have made clear their intent to continue to work with stakeholders and continue to build upon their rules to ensure the market’s success.

Under the state’s new legalization law, Arizona adults will be able to possess up to an ounce of marijuana at a time and cultivate up to six plants for personal use.

The measure also contains several provisions aimed at addressing the harms of prohibition, such as allowing individuals with prior marijuana convictions to petition the courts for expungements and establishing a social-equity ownership program.

Cannabis sales will be taxed at 16 percent. Tax revenue will cover implementation costs and then be divided among funds for community colleges, infrastructure, a justice reinvestment and public services such as police and firefighters.

That revenue could also help the Arizona’s economic recovery amid the coronavirus pandemic, Richard said.

“At the time where folks are still struggling to recover across the country in terms of state budgets, we look forward to being a critical piece” of that recovery, he said.

Arizona’s quick response to voter approval of the reform initiative stands in stark contrast to New Jersey, where voters also approved a legalization referendum in November.

While regulations have been developed and retail sales are launching in Arizona, enabling legislation has faced numerous delays in New Jersey as lawmakers and the governor continue to hash out differences in their preferred regulatory approach.

That said, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) said during his State of the State address last week that “we are on the verge of passing an innovative and groundbreaking set of laws to reform our historically unjust approach to marijuana and cannabis.” But the exact timeline to pass an implementation bill is yet to be determined.

See the full list of medical cannabis dispensaries authorized to sell recreational marijuana below:

Facility Legal NameCountyCity
Natural Relief Clinic IncCochiseBisbee
Desertview Wellness & Healing Solutions, LLCCoconinoFlagstaff
Arizona Natures WellnessCoconinoSedona
Desert Medical CampusGilaPayson
High Desert Healing LlcMaricopaAvondale
Non Profit Patient Center IncMaricopaCave Creek
Azgm 3, IncMaricopaChandler
Border Health, IncMaricopaChandler
Total Health & Wellness IncMaricopaChandler
Total Health & Wellness IncMaricopaChandler
Arizona Cannabis Society Inc.MaricopaEl Mirage
Fort Mountain Consulting, LlcMaricopaEl Mirage
Absolute Health Care IncMaricopaGilbert
Ocotillo Vista, Inc.MaricopaGlendale
Pahana, Inc.MaricopaGlendale
Pp Wellness CenterMaricopaGlendale
Whoa Qc IncMaricopaGlendale
G.T.L. LlcMaricopaGuadalupe
Nature Med IncMaricopaGuadalupe
4245 Investments LlcMaricopaMesa
Arizona Wellness Collective 3, IncMaricopaMesa
Buds & Roses, IncMaricopaMesa
Jamestown CenterMaricopaMesa
Sea Of Green LlcMaricopaMesa
The Giving Tree Wellness Center Of Mesa IncMaricopaMesa
The Healing Center Farmacy LlcMaricopaMesa
Valley Healing Group IncMaricopaMesa
Vending Logistics LlcMaricopaMesa
Pinal County Wellness CenterMaricopaPeoria
Ad, LlcMaricopaPhoenix
Az Compassionate Care IncMaricopaPhoenix
Catalina Hills Botanical Care IncMaricopaPhoenix
Devine Desert Healing IncMaricopaPhoenix
Fort Consulting, LlcMaricopaPhoenix
Greens Goddess Products, IncMaricopaPhoenix
Healing Healthcare 3 IncMaricopaPhoenix
Herbal Wellness Center IncMaricopaPhoenix
Kwerles IncMaricopaPhoenix
Mohave Valley Consulting, LlcMaricopaPhoenix
Natural Herbal Remedies IncMaricopaPhoenix
Natural Relief Clinic IncMaricopaPhoenix
Nature’s Healing Center IncMaricopaPhoenix
Nature’s Healing Center IncMaricopaPhoenix
Organica Patient Group IncMaricopaPhoenix
Phytotherapeutics Of TucsonMaricopaPhoenix
Rjk Ventures, Inc.MaricopaPhoenix
The Giving Tree Wellness Center Of North Phoenix IncMaricopaPhoenix
ZonacareMaricopaPhoenix
The Kind Relief IncMaricopaQueen Creek
Byers DispensaryMaricopaScottsdale
Csi Solutions LlcMaricopaScottsdale
Eba Holdings Inc.MaricopaScottsdale
All Greens IncMaricopaSun City
East Valley Patient Wellness Group IncMaricopaSun City
Holistic Patient Wellness GroupMaricopaTempe
Salubrious Wellness Clinic IncMaricopaTempe
Svaccha, LlcMaricopaTempe
Kannaboost Technology IncMaricopaTempe
K Group Partners LlcMaricopaYoungtown
Sweet 5, LlcMaricopaYoungtown
Verde Dispensary IncMohaveKingman
Abedon Saiz LlcMohaveLake Havasu City
Fwa IncMohaveLake Havasu City
Arizona Golden Leaf Wellness, LlcPimaMarana
Medmar Tanque Verde LlcPimaTucson
Patient Care Center 301, Inc.PimaTucson
Rainbow Collective IncPimaTucson
Nature’s Wonder IncPinalApache Junction
Svaccha, LlcPinalApache Junction
Medical Pain Relief IncPinalCasa Grande
Sherri Dunn, LlcYavapaiCottonwood
203 Organix, LlcYavapaiPrescott
Jamestown CenterYumaYuma

This piece is a part of a content sharing arrangement between The News Station and Marijuana Moment.

Kyle Jaeger

Associate editor at Marijuana Moment

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