Arizona may have opened adult marijuana sales last week, but the first round of retail licenses, whether by design or not, leaves some of the state’s most populous cities underserved.
At the same time, the distribution of licenses has created a license boon for some smaller cities.
The first 86 adult use licenses granted by the Arizona Department of Health to existing medical marijuana dispensaries across the state will be issued at stone store locations in the coming years.
In short, licensees in some cities like Tucson and Gilbert will face relatively few competitors, at least for now. In contrast, license holders in smaller communities, including Youngtown or Guadalupe, will face relatively more competition.
Marijuana Business Daily’s analysis of license distribution shows that some of the state’s most populous cities, including Tucson and Gilbert, have fewer licenses per capita compared to population.
Phoenix, the largest city in the state, received 23 licenses, or 1.37 per 100,000 population.
Compare that to Tucson, Arizona’s second largest city, where three pharmacies were granted permits for 0.5 licenses per capita, which is nowhere near the Phoenix numbers.
A fourth license was issued in nearby Marana, but more than a million people live in the metropolitan area of Tucson alone, making the per capita figure even smaller.
Some communities are actively trying to keep adult marijuana out of their communities.
Gilbert, a town east of Phoenix with around 250,000 residents, passed a preventive ordinance in October making it illegal for adults to buy and sell marijuana within community boundaries – although there is an exception for an MMJ pharmacy that is already in operation, which is operated by Massachusetts multistate operator Curaleaf.
In some of the denser areas of the Phoenix metropolitan area, the lack of pharmacies could be a boon to smaller, less populated areas.
The city of Guadalupe, west of Gilbert near Interstate 10, has a population of just 6,400, but it received two of the first licenses for adult use, which is 30.8 per capita considering its small size.
Of course, the number of licenses in the state will change.
The initiative, approved by voters, enables Arizona’s 130 existing medical cannabis dispensaries to apply for an additional license for adult use for the first time.
However, a limited number of additional licenses may be granted, including social justice permits and licenses for districts with one or fewer medical pharmacies.
Andrew Long can be contacted at [email protected]