Proposition 207 has officially gone into effect as recreational marijuana sales begin to boom in Tucson over the past month.
Adults 21 and older can now legally possess up to one ounce of marijuana with no more than five grams of marijuana concentrates. Individuals may also grow up to six marijuana plants in their residences as long as they are within an enclosed area away from public view.
Harvest House of Cannabis, Bloom Dispensary and Desert Bloom Re-Leaf Center are currently open for recreational sales, but be prepared to wait in line for a while.
Steve White is the co-founder and CEO of Harvest and has been active in helping the Tucson location prepare for recreational sales. The Arizona Department of Health Services began accepting applications for Marijuana Establishment Licenses on Jan. 19, and Harvest was more than prepared to begin sales.
“Not only did we put in an application before 4 a.m. on that Tuesday [Jan. 19], but we had all the staff ready and trained in case the approval came quickly,” White said.
Harvest has dealt with very long lines since opening up recreational sales, with some customers waiting in line for hours.
“Other operators will open and be able to take some of the load from us, and then some of the excitement surrounding the opportunity will start to dissipate a little bit,” White said. “It depends on when you go obviously just like any other retail business, but right now there is quite a demand for that store.”
A senior* at the University of Arizona purchased marijuana recreationally at Harvest recently and greatly appreciated the quality of the product compared to what they were getting before.
“I realized that all the stuff I was picking up was really low quality, and it really wasn't doing the job anymore,” the student said.
With dangerous instances, such as marijuana being laced with different drugs, people can now have more peace of mind knowing what they’re consuming.
“It makes you feel a lot more safe to smoke,” the student said. “When I buy from a dispensary I know I'm getting quality, and I know it's free of anything that could potentially harm me.”
Mitch Vipond is a detective sergeant for the Tucson Police Department and has not noticed any drastic changes from the implementation of recreational marijuana sales.
“Most of what police deal with is sales,” Vipond said. “We’re not trying to get people for possession.”
Although the TPD hasn’t had much involvement with the dispensaries, they still encourage students and residents to purchase from dispensaries over the black market.
“Marijuana is still the most dangerous thing to buy and sell on the black market,” Vipond said. “You wouldn’t think so, but it is.”
Vipond asked that students “be discreet” when possessing marijuana, as posting products on social media can bring harmful consequences.
“Don’t post stuff on Facebook because someone will come and take it away from you,” Vipond said. “Most home robberies happen because bad people find out they’ve got marijuana.”
As for the future of marijuana legalization, there are still some hoops to jump through federally.
“The issue is dispensaries have a lot of problems using banks,” Vipond said. “The banks are subject to federal law, which also makes them targets because they’re largely a cash business.”
If marijuana is legalized federally, banks can legally work with dispensaries and end the cash-only purchases from customers.
“The future for the cannabis business is just wider and wider mainstream acceptance, and then laws that start to reflect what the normal people believe about marijuana,” White said. “Generally speaking, laws lag what the people want.”
According to the Pew Research Center, two-thirds of Americans are ready for marijuana legalization on the federal level. The future is looking green for those who consume the product or want to see the taxes positively affecting their community.
“I think weed is going to be legal across the U.S. within four years, so it kind of puts Tucson on the map as one of the forerunners for recreational marijuana,” the student said. “It's just going to help the economy and the city grow.”
*Editor's Note: We've chosen to withhold the identity of the student at their request.
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