The Arizona Department of Health Services is going to grant 31 new licenses for the sale of marijuana in the state. 750 applications are in and applicants are forking over $5,000 for each one.
Marijuana as a business in Arizona will grow, especially if voters pass Prop 205 and make recreational marijuana legal this November for people over age 21 with restrictions: adults could possess one ounce and grow up to six plants.
At Giving Tree Wellness Center in the Deer Valley area of north Phoenix, there's a dispensary offering medical marijuana to patients, and behind it, an extensive grow room. 1,000 plants, different strains of marijuana, complete with a lab to ensure high quality standards are met.
Giving Tree has applied for one of the 31 new licenses to expand its operations.
"We are hoping to be in Maricopa County and we applied for another location in Mesa and one on the west side," said Giving Tree's Lilach Power.
It is not cheap to apply for one of those licenses. You have to come up with $5,000 if you want one and then of course, you have to win permission to get one of those licenses.
"So for the new licenses, you have to find a location, look at zoning, find a building rent and approval from the owner," said Power.
Right now, the licenses are only for medical marijuana, but if voters pass Prop 205: recreational marijuana for people over 21, dispensary owners say business could expand greatly.
"I think it is totally fine for adults to decide if they want a glass of wine or a joint. it is actually better because they don't go to the ER after they smoke. They stay at home and order pizza," said Power.
Voters will decide in November whether recreational marijuana becomes legal in Arizona, as it has in Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Washington, D.C.
The Department of Health Services will announce who gets the new medical marijuana licenses this October.