Unlike the rural county program, licenses handed out under the social equity ownership program won’t be tied to a specific county or location.
According to Richard, with Tucson’s relatively friendly zoning laws, he foresees a few additional dispensaries sprouting up as a result of the program.
“I’m fairly certain that there will be at least a few more dispensaries moving into town,” he said.
The future of
Once the state issues 26 social equity licenses next year, the total will be 169 active licenses, although as of publication, only about 125 are attached to active retail locations.
For comparison, Washington, a state with a similar population to Arizona of over 7 million, has more than 1,000 dispensaries – not just licenses, but retail dispensaries. Oklahoma, a state with roughly half Arizona’s population, has more than 2,000.
Richard explained that relatively low number of dispensaries per-capita in Arizona compared to other states is due to two factors: voters not wanting the program to end up “like Oklahoma or California, with dispensaries on every corner,” he said — and the related fact that the marijuana industry is still viewed as being part of the black market.
“Many cities and counties still treat marijuana much like pawn shops and gentlemen’s clubs,” he said.