Arizona Launches Adult-Use Cannabis Sales

Adult-use cannabis sales have started in Arizona, making it the quickest state so far to move from voter approval to a fully-fledged recreational marketplace.

Full story after the jump.

Adult-use cannabis sales in Arizona began last Thursday making the state the quickest to move from approval at the ballot box to a functional market. Curaleaf, Harvest Health, The Mint, and Territory dispensaries were among the companies to begin cannabis sales to adults last week, AZ Central reports.

Dispensaries must pay $25,000 to apply for a recreational sales license and Arizona Department of Health Services spokesman Steve Elliott said that the agency had approved 86 applications.

Steve Cottrell, president of Curaleaf Arizona, described the state’s transition to a recreational market as a “defining moment.”

“Cannabis is officially decriminalized in Arizona, which means people will not be prosecuted for cannabis infractions of anything under an ounce. That’s a very important thing; we have hundreds of thousands of people yearly who are prosecuted for possession of cannabis, so this is going to be a positive change.” – Cottrell to AZ Big Media

In 2020, Arizona dispensaries sold about 106 tons of cannabis and cannabis products to the state’s registered patients – a 20% increase from the 83 tons of cannabis and cannabis products sold in the state the previous year, the report says. Medical cannabis sales remain untaxed while recreational sales carry a 16% excise tax.

There are another seven dispensaries that have received an adult-use license but are not yet up and running and the voter-approved law allows for new dispensaries in rural counties with fewer than two currently-operating dispensaries. Another 26 licenses are expected to be issued to social-equity applicants.

The industry tax and licensing fees are projected to generate $166 million in annual revenue for the state, with the first $19 million going towards the Arizona Department of Health Services for setting up the program. After DHS is repaid, $15 million will go towards the Arizona Teachers Academy Fund and $10 million will go towards the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety for grants to reduce impaired driving. Another 33% of the revenue will go towards community colleges; nearly 32% is earmarked for local law enforcement and fire departments; 25% is set aside for state and local transportation programs; and 10% will be used for public health and criminal justice programs.

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