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Legal weed is here.
The Arizona Department of Health Services has given approval to 73 dispensaries to begin selling recreational marijuana products to adults aged 21 and older.
See the bottom of this post for the complete list of dispensaries, with names and contact information, by DHS.
A spokesperson at The Mint dispensary, which has a Tempe and a Mesa location, said they will begin sales today (Friday) at 4:20 p.m.
Territory, which has dispensaries in Chandler, Gilbert, and Mesa, says it will also begin selling at its locations at 4:20 p.m.
Curaleaf, which has eight dispensaries across the state, began selling at noon at its shops.
Harvest Health and Recreation operates 15 dispensaries in the state. CEO Steve White tells New Times “12 or 13” of those have been approved so far and are open and already selling recreational marijuana, including the Scottsdale location at 15190 N. Hayden.
“We consummated our first sale 17 seconds, I think, after we received the state’s approval today,” White said. “I expect to see lines out the door today and probably through the weekend, but I believe traffic should normalize after that.”
The approval comes after 60 percent of Arizona voters supported the state’s latest attempt to legalize recreational marijuana — Proposition 207 — in November.
Under the new law, adults 21 or older can possess up to an ounce of marijuana, with up to five grams of that being concentrates, and grow up to six cannabis plants at home. The law also allows for medical marijuana dispensaries to begin selling to recreational users after receiving state approval. That has now begun.
Specifically, the measure required the Arizona Department of Health Services to begin accepting applications on January 19 from early applicants: either existing dispensaries or applicants hoping to open one in a county that has less than two dispensaries already.
Some have seen this as a way for the existing industry, which bankrolled the initiative campaign, to grab up the limited number of licenses and maintain a monopoly on the market. But it’s also a way to avoid the logistical hitches that slowed rollout in states that tried to build a whole new recreational cannabis system from scratch.
The law gives state regulators 60 days from when the early application window ends on March 9 to begin issuing licenses, but dispensaries expected the state to grant the licenses much sooner — and it looks like that’s what has happened.
Sam Richard, executive director of the Arizona Dispensaries Association, said that vendors had earned the trust of state officials, paving the way for a quick approval.
“They’re known quantities,” he said. “They’re known entities to the regulators.”
While some in the industry expected an immediate rubberstamp and to begin selling January 20, Richard said that it took slightly longer to get applications submitted than expected and that background checks required that fingerprints be submitted in-person.
“The [Arizona Department of Health Services] itself is anxious to not be the body that stands in the way of adult-use cannabis,” he said.
An agency spokesperson told New Times last week that licenses will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis, meaning that it’s likely that the number of dispensaries offering recreational products will continue to increase over the next few days. At some point, the state will also issue licenses to 26 new dispensaries through a social-equity program, but the details remain to be worked out.
A spokesperson said ADHS said the agency had already received 61 applications as of Wednesday afternoon.
Some local producers are expecting a 3x growth in sales. Item 9 Labs Chief Revenue Officer Bryce Skalla said that the company has had to find extra space to store the extra packaging they had stocked up on
“We have giant cargo containers… just full of packaging,” he said. ”Where do you put a million jars?”
Skalla also warned that for anyone trying marijuana products for the first time in decades, today’s products are a lot stronger. He recommends getting a quarter of what you think you should get.
Recreational sales are also subject to a 16 percent state tax and you can still get in trouble for smoking in public or driving while stoned, so be smart!
The mood outside the Curaleaf location in south central Phoenix was festive just after 2:30 p.m. Two quick-moving lines of recreational and medical customers were separated by a velvet rope, while a DJ played.
Friends A.J. Johnson and Bobby Jones were figuring out how to place their orders in line before heading in. Johnson told Phoenix New Times that he was trying to buy the best flower they had.
“We want that shit that’s going to have you high for two days,” he said.
Behind them in line, welder Erick Fonseca said he had come right after work after getting a news alert on his phone. He was hoping to buy some edibles to enjoy with the weather this weekend.
“I’m just glad I don’t have to get it off the street,” he said. “It’s about time they did something smart.”
Not everyone was excited about legalization.
“Now I’ve gotta wait in a long-ass line” said medical patient West Scott. He plans to keep his card to avoid the 16 percent state excise tax on recreational sales.
Adding to the celebratory atmosphere, Mesa chef Jacquelynn Hanley had been hired to provide catering. She was serving lemon chicken, herbed green beans, pasta salad, and a mixed green salad. Hanley said she usually catered fancy events so this was a nice change.
“Everybody here has been very relaxed and chill,” she said. “They’re not picky at all.”
At Curaleaf’s Midtown location in Phoenix, around 30 people were in line just before 5 p.m. Many had come as soon as they heard on the news that recreational sales had begun.
“I found out just now when I went to drop off my packages at UPS,” said Kisha Vega as she waited in line.
Nick Harper lives nearby and came as soon he saw a news outlet post on Instagram that sales were happening. He got a couple of cartridges that he uses to self-medicate his leg.
“It makes it a lot easier to get it for myself,” he said.
Keith Morris, a Curaleaf employee, was helping people pre-order before they got inside. He said the crowd had been pretty diverse.
“I think people know what they want,” he said.
Chella Marie had driven to the store from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community with her brother and two adult children, since there’s no dispensaries on the reservation. Marie got some concentrate for tonight. After they do Fry Bread Friday for dinner, she plans to consume some cannabis and then put together a playground set for her grandkids.
“Grandma’s going to be out there laughing and singing with them,” she said.
While one elderly medical patient opted to not wait in line, others were happy to see other people get access. Teacher Emily Bacon saw legalization as a snapshot of Arizona becoming more young and diverse.
“It’s fun to be a part of that,” she said.
(This story was updated a few hours after publication.)
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