Recreational marijuana sales have officially started in Arizona.
"We're thrilled to make the first sale and provide recreational customers with access to regulated and legal cannabis products on this historic Arizona day," said Steve White, CEO of Harvest Health & Recreation Inc, a vertically integrated cannabis company based in Arizona and US Multi-State Operator “Initial sales started just 80 days after the election and 54 days after the election was confirmed. This is by far the fastest start in history. The Department of Health Services has tremendously accelerated this process, helping operators like Harvest make recreational sales to Arizonans 21 and over. We look forward to serving both medical patients and recreational customers in our retail stores across the state. "
Harvest currently operates 15 pharmacies in Avondale, Casa Grande, Chandler, Cottonwood, Glendale, Guadalupe, Lake Havasu, Mesa, Peoria, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe and Tucson and is supported by cultivation facilities in Camp Verde, El Mirage, Phoenix and Willcox, and processing facilities in Flagstaff and Phoenix.
Recreational marijuana use became legal in Arizona thanks to the simple passage of Proposition 207.
The measure, approved by more than 60% of voters on November 3, decriminalizes recreational marijuana use and possession for those aged 21 and over. allows minor, non-violent marijuana offenders to request their criminal records deleted; and levies a consumption tax to support underfunded programs across the state.
"Arizona's move to legalize adult marijuana use is a defining moment for the state, and Curaleaf couldn't be more excited to be a part of this historic moment," said Steve Cottrell, president of Curaleaf Arizona. “Since Prop. 207 was passed in November 2020, our team has focused on advancing our plans to enter the state adult use market. We look forward to being one of the first to introduce Arizonan's tested, high quality recreational cannabis products. Curaleaf has eight state-of-the-art medical pharmacies in Phoenix, Gilbert, Glendale, and Youngtown in Arizona. We are proud to announce that ADHD has approved all eight of our recreational license applications to meet new consumer demand. ”
Many Arizona pharmacies have long been preparing for this huge development for the cannabis industry. Licensed pharmacies received approval from the Arizona Department of Health on January 22nd to serve adult cannabis users.
One of these pharmacies is Curaleaf, which has eight locations in Arizona.
"We currently have approximately 228,000 patients, and while they have been enjoying the benefits of this magical medicine for some time, it will be exciting to have the opportunity to open it to the adult population," said Cottrell. "It's been on our radar since 2010 and 11 years later we are here. This is an exciting moment for the state and the Department of Health has put together a program that is second to none." We are excited about the future and the program that we have ahead of us, ”said Cottrell.
“The legal use of recreational sales is important to the industry in that we have now entered a whole new market, a new customer base that we didn't have before. This means you have potentially generated more capital, attracting more investment and increasing employment growth in the state, ”said Greta Brandt, President of The flower shop, a vertically integrated cannabis company with three pharmacies in Arizona.
Both Cottrell and Brandt say pharmacies expect to serve three times the number of current customers, which Brandt estimates at around 3 million, and expect long lines for some time. Brandt admitted that supply could be short in the short term because demand is extremely high.
In addition, Cottrell said preparation for legalization had been going on over the past 11 years as “pharmacies will continue to stock high-dose foods for medical patients, but now the same foods are becoming a lower dose for the adult who uses them for adults Get the same great aroma and taste, just less medicine, ”said Cottrell.
The passing of Proposition 207 in November 2020, known as the Smart and Safe Arizona ActLegalized recreational marijuana for adults 21 years and older to own 1 ounce of marijuana, with no more than 5 grams of marijuana concentrates (extracts). In addition, a 16 percent excise tax is levied on the sale of recreational marijuana products, which is used to fund various government agencies.
The economic impact on the state will be massive. Cottrell said tax and license fees are expected to be generated over the next year Annual sales of $ 166 millionThe first $ 19 million will go to the Arizona Department of Health, and then $ 15 million to the Arizona Teachers Academy fund and $ 10 million to the governor's Road Safety Department for grants to reduce driving disorders.
"We will see 33 percent of the proceeds go to community colleges. Nearly 32 percent goes to local law enforcement and fire departments. 25 percent goes to state and local transportation programs; and 10 percent goes to public health and criminal justice programs," said Cottrell.
When other states introduced recreational sales, Brandt says not only are there economic benefits, but the industry is also creating tons of new jobs and growing year after year, including in Arizona.
Cottrell said Curaleaf Arizona currently has 420 employees and expects to hire an additional 150 employees over the next year, which is exciting as Curaleaf and 130 other Arizona pharmacies add more job opportunities.
"There will be eight more pharmacies this year allocated by the Arizona Department of Health," said Cottrell. "We will see an additional 20 pharmacies in the next two years, after which this will be the upper limit, which will be between 150 and 160 pharmacies in Arizona time." These licenses are limited; The Arizona process was instituted by some very good lawmakers. You did a great job putting this program together and running it. We couldn't be happier with the way the program currently exists. "
In addition, Cottrell said the passage of Prop 207 will undermine social justice in Arizona. “Cannabis is officially decriminalized in Arizona, which means people will not be prosecuted for cannabis violations of anything under an ounce. It is a very important thing. We have hundreds of thousands of people prosecuted for possession of cannabis each year. So this will be a positive change, ”said Cottrell.
Brandt said the impact of legalizing recreational marijuana in some states on the entire industry is significant. "One big, positive move for the industry is that marijuana is becoming a common health and wellness solution," Brandt said.
Cottrell echoed Brandt's thoughts with the hope that the more educated people will see cannabis in a positive light. "I have a feeling that as time goes on, the more people are informed of the wonders and things this plant does for them, the more people will use this plant, whether in topical or edible form, or as a vaping product . "
"For Arizona, it will bring stability to the state to be competitive by providing taxable dollars to the state and competing with the black market to essentially eliminate it, which we hope as operators," Brandt said.
"I think the stability of recreational cannabis is the next step in legitimizing this industry, hopefully this would then take the drug off of a Schedule I to Schedule II classification, which opens up traditional banking opportunities and traditional investment opportunities that we can't around today to access it, ”said Brandt. "I think these are very important things from a business standpoint, entrepreneurs, to grow this business, to grow the industry here in the state, these are things that are vital to development, and we hope that happens at the federal level. "
“Curaleaf is very proud of what we do across the country. Currently we are in 23 states and we have taken the position that we are here to make life better by providing clarity about cannabis and confidence in its use and that is, it is very important for people to understand when they will experience this wonderful product, ”said Cottrell.