One year later: Recreational marijuana in Tucson

Recreational Marijuana, one year later
Published: Jan. 19, 2022 at 12:33 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - One year ago, dispensaries across Arizona opened their doors for recreational use.

Prop. 207 passed during the 2020 election, making it legal for adults in Arizona to purchase marijuana for recreational use.

In 2021, shops like Prime Leaf in midtown Tucson were given the green light to sell marijuana for recreational use. But, Michael Crawford and his team at Prime, rolled it out slowly.

“While most people turned on adult use in January, we waited until March and April. We wanted to make sure we took care of our medical patients.”

Crawford said that was the key to a successful year.

“Seeing about a 30 percent increase. Word is that it will increase even more as people become more comfortable shopping. We get new people every day that it is their first time in a dispensary. So as that happens, I think we will see a bigger and bigger increase.”

According to the Arizona Dispensary Association, so far $196 million in tax revenue has been collected and around $45 million is going to the general fund. December numbers are not out yet.

“We likely never eclipsed a billion dollars in top line sales before going to adult use. We are on pace to approach if not clear $1.5 billion in total sales this calendar year,” said Samuel Richard with Arizona Dispensary Association.

KOLD News 13′s Allie Potter asked Richard if there was any sort of goal in mind for the first year.

“I think our biggest goal was to make sure we had enough product and capability to meet the demands of the consumers who walked through our doors. Heading into the year, we already had around 315,000 qualified patients that were part of the medical program. So, Arizona dispensaries were ready for hundreds of thousands if not approaching a million new customers.”

Potter asked Richard where he sees the industry in 2022.

“I am going to go ahead and make a bold prediction. In Arizona, revenue from cannabis will eclipse revenue from alcohol.”

Potter asked Crawford what his goals are for year number two of recreational marijuana sales.

“We are going to focus mainly on making sure we take care of our medical customers and keep our supply chains open. I am also looking for some sponsorship marketing opportunities.”

Tax revenue from recreational marijuana sales goes towards Arizona community colleges, rural infrastructure, and behavioral health programs.

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