Arizona launches adult-use cannabis sales just weeks after voter-approved legalization

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Of the 15 U.S. state’s that have legalized cannabis for adult-use purposes, Arizona has been named the fastest mover in terms of kick-starting sales. It was during the November elections that Proposition 207 the state’s recreational cannabis ballot measure gained sufficient voter approval. 

As per the voter-approved ballot measure, the 120-or-so medical cannabis dispensaries that currently serve Arizonans are legally allowed to sell recreational cannabis to adults aged 21 and older. However, registration with the Department of Health Services is imperative.

A Scottsdale-based Harvest Health and Recreation dispensary was the first to be approved at around noon on Friday, January 22. Members of staff made their excitement clear as they began ushering in recreational customers, all of whom were served in a separately designated zone to medical cannabis customers.

Examples of some adult-use cannabis transactions that were recorded by the cashiers at Arizona’s dispensaries include “Tropic Thunder” vapes, “Skunk #1” cannabis strain cartridges, “Amnesia Lemon”, “Grape Dream,” and “Princess Haze” strains, as well as pre-rolled “Peanut Butter Breath” joints.

AZDHS releases list of dispensaries approved for recreational cannabis sales in Arizona

Shortly after the Arizona Department of Health Services (AZDHS) provided Scottsdale-based Harvest’s employees with approval to start selling recreational cannabis in Arizona, the department published a list of dispensary operators that also managed to bag approval.

Stores spread across Tucson, Yuma, Flagstaff, Cottonwood and Sedona were included in the list of medical cannabis dispensaries that were approved to begin adult-use sales. Additionally, The Mint’s Guadalupe and Mesa locations, 13 of the state’s 15 Harvest dispensaries and three Territory Dispensary locations were also given the green light.

Steve Elliot, a spokesman for the AZDHS, told reporters on Friday, January 22 that 86 applications to sell adult-use cannabis in the state’s licensed dispensaries has already been accepted. Since numerous dispensaries are patiently waiting for their retail applications to be reviewed, an influx of fresh store traffic is expected in the foreseeable future.

Arizona cannabis sales grew 27 percent in 2020

Now that recreational cannabis sales in Arizona are in full swing, the economy looks set to reap the rewards. Even before the commencement of statewide adult-use sales, the industry saw 27 percent sales growth between 2019 when retailers sold 83 tons of cannabis and related products and 2020.

State data shows that dispensaries managed to shift approximately 106 tons of cannabis and related products last year; despite the fact that retailers were only able to sell to medical cannabis cardholders. All 295,000 residential cardholders can still purchase medical cannabis, as well as adult-use goods from facilities that have opted in for recreational sales. 

Moreover, Arizona’s registered medical cannabis patients are allowed to purchase more than the general public cardholders can purchase 2.5 ounces every two weeks, whereas recreational cannabis customers are limited to possessing one ounce.