Adult-Use Cannabis Sales Commence in Arizona
Sales of adult-use cannabis in Arizona began on Friday, less than three months after voters overwhelmingly approved legalization during the 2020 election.
According to Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) records, 86 cannabis establishments were licensed as of January 22, 2021. Three of those businesses are listed as nonoperational, however.
The swift launch marks the fastest ever turnaround from passage of a legalization initiative to implementation of adult-use cannabis sales. Previously, Nevada held the record after launching sales just eight months after voters approved legalization.
Existing medical marijuana dispensaries — which have been legal in Arizona since 2010 — were the first to receive the newly issued adult-use licenses, and stores owned by Curaleaf, Harvest Health, and Columbia Care were among the earliest to commence sales.
"We are delighted to have the opportunity to finally open our doors to all adult-use consumers and medical patients throughout the state after nearly two million residents voted in favor of Proposition 207 last year," Steve Cottrell, president of Curaleaf Arizona said via a news release.
Curaleaf, the largest cannabis firm in the U.S., operates eight dispensaries across Arizona.
For its part, Harvest Health — which boasts 15 dispensaries in the Grand Canyon State — processed its first adult-use transaction at a location in Scottsdale on Friday.
"We are thrilled to record the first sale and begin offering access to regulated and legal cannabis products to recreational customers on this historic day in Arizona," CEO Steve White said via a news release.
White also noted that adult-use sales began just 54 days after the results of the 2020 election were certified.
“The Department of Health Services did an incredible job expediting this process, helping operators like Harvest sell recreationally to Arizonans 21 years of age and older,” he said.
The ADHS established its rules for allocating marijuana establishment licenses on January 15 and began accepting applications from both existing operators and those looking to open on January 19, according to Cannabis Industry Journal.
Even though it had 60 days to process applications and issue licenses, the ADHS moved quickly to ensure existing medical marijuana operators could begin selling products to the general public.
In a statement, Brightroot Inc. co-founder Eivan Shahara, who runs the 12,000 sq. ft. Mint Dispensary, called the launch of adult-use sales a “major cannabis industry milestone.”
“This has been a long time coming, as perceptions about marijuana are slowly changing and people are seeing the medicinal benefits,” he said.
Arizona was one of four states where voters approved recreational marijuana at the ballot boxes last November. New Jersey, Montana and South Dakota also voted to legalize adult-use cannabis, but the framework for initiating sales in those markets is taking longer to establish.
Under Proposition 207, also known as the “Smart and Safe Arizona Act,” adults over the age of 21 are allowed to possess up to one ounce of cannabis. They are also permitted to cultivate up to six plants for personal use.
On top of Arizona’s 5.6% sales tax, adult-use cannabis carries a 16% excise tax.
According to New Frontier Data, there are 1.2 million cannabis users in Arizona. Adult-use sales are projected to reach $341 million in 2021 and more than $1 billion by 2025.
Medical marijuana sales reached $768 million in Arizona in 2019.
Adult-use cannabis is legal in15 U.S. states as well as Washington D.C. Eleven states -- Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, and Washginton -- have already established commercial marketplaces.
Recreational cannabis is also legal in Montana, New Jersey, South Dakota, and Vermont, but those markets are still in the process of establishing rules and regulations for commercial sales.