Recreational marijuana sales in Arizona could start this week
Marijuana sales to anyone 21 or older in Arizona could start within a day or two, with state health officials telling dispensaries they are poised to issue licenses for recreational sales.
The first stores able to sell recreational marijuana and marijuana products, such as vape pens and gummy edibles, are existing medical-marijuana dispensaries. Some of those businesses said Tuesday they are awaiting approval from state regulators to show up online so they may open their doors to anyone with a state-issued ID.
“I’m sitting here at my computer hitting refresh, refresh,” said Raúl Molina, a partner and senior vice president of operations for The Mint dispensaries in Mesa and Guadalupe.
A spokesman for the Department of Health Services said 40 medical dispensaries had applied to sell recreational marijuana as of Tuesday afternoon.
The quick turnaround for licenses was unexpected by some dispensary owners, who anticipated the state agency would use the full amount of time given under the law to approve applications, meaning recreational sales wouldn’t begin until March or April.
About two-thirds of dispensaries in the state have yet to make an application, meaning their competitors will have a jump on them in attracting the recreational market.
Molina said he is ready to begin sales as soon as he gets the OK, and that officials with the Department of Health Services told him it could come at any time.
“I am so ready,” Molina said, adding that he has submitted documents to the state for his employees to work in a recreational dispensary, stocked childproof packaging, added cash registers and programmed them to add the appropriate tax to recreational sales, and bought an additional 800 pounds of marijuana in the past month to meet the anticipated demand.
“We expect rushes like 4/20 (April 20) for probably like 10 to 30 days straight,” he said. “Basically it’s going to be 4/20 for a full month.”
Molina said he has dedicated registers for medical-marijuana patients to prevent a displacement by new recreational customers.
Arizonans approved Proposition 207 in November, legalizing adult use and possession of marijuana. The measure also allowed the state’s 120 or so operating medical-marijuana dispensaries to apply for a license to sell to any adult, not just those who have a state-issued medical-marijuana card.