Arizona Dispensaries Prepare to Sell Adult-Use Cannabis
Giving Tree Dispensary, the only female majority-owned dispensary in Arizona, received its license to sell adult-use cannabis Jan. 22, and the dispensary is getting ready for sales to begin.
Giving Tree opened and began selling medical cannabis in 2013. Since then, it has become one of the longest-standing cannabis companies in Arizona.
Last week, the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) began accepting applications for its newly passed adult-use cannabis law. Lilach Mazor Power, Giving Tree Dispensary founder and managing director, says she submitted Giving Tree’s application the first day they opened.
« The applications were all online through our business account with the health department, » Power said. « From the last eight years, the health department already has a lot of information about us. So, what we had to do is fill out a one-sheet application about our facilities, upload it at the station for each board member and show a level one clearance card, and then pay $25,000 online. It took me about 10 minutes. »
A few days after Power applied, it was approved.
« Any current license holder that is already operating in the medical program and is in good standing with the health department should be approved, » she said. « Good standing means that department came and did their inspection, you passed it and fixed any corrections that they asked you to fix so that your policies and procedures are now matching the medical and adult-use market. »
Power said that the adult-use market and medical cannabis market are relatively the same, with the only key difference being quantity and dosing.
Although Giving Tree has received its license to sell adult-use cannabis, Power said that sales may not start until early February, as the dispensary moved to a new retail location Jan. 25 and is working to get everything in place.
When sales start, she said that the primary challenge would be getting accustomed to serving three to four times the amount of people, especially amid the ongoing pandemic. She wants to ensure people keep their distance, be safe, and not wait longer than an hour to receive products.
With the expansion of the new retail store, Power and her team will overcome those challenges and serve customers accordingly.
« We went for a different concept, » Power said. « It’s an open floor plan with lots of windows, so like a real retail store. The whole space has many places to hang out, like bar tables and chairs all around, so people can walk around, ask questions and take their time to learn about everything we have. It can be overwhelming for a new person coming into the cannabis world, so we want to create a space where they are comfortable. »
There will also be consultants on the floor with iPads, walking around with customers, and answering any questions. The consultant will also place their order, package it and check them out as needed, she said.
Customers can also place an order using their phone or one of the touch screens the dispensary provides for seamless and quick purchasing, she said.
Additionally, Giving Tree’s extraction and manufacturing facility is tripling in size. Power plans to order automated machines and hire several employees across all locations to keep up with the supply and demand.
« I am looking forward to being able to serve a lot more people and to talk about cannabis, » she said. « Now we are going to be able to be part of so many people’s journeys. For the current location, I am looking forward to automating some of the processes because my team has to work overtime to be able to keep up with the demand. »
Another Arizona dispensary that is getting ready for adult-use sales is Hana Meds, a vertically integrated cannabis company.
Delano Phillips, general counsel and head of business development at Hana Meds, said the dispensary plans to submit its application soon; they just had to complete some administrative tasks to ensure everything is in place.
« Going back to 2016, we felt that there’s a good chance of Prop 207 passing this year, which it did, and then we hurtled on the December/January time frame for applications to open, » Phillips said.
Phillips expressed that Hana Meds would likely have a « go-live » date as one sees in other states like Illinois, where people line up around the block and stores quickly run out of inventory.
As Hana Meds starts to prepare for sales, some things the dispensary is doing to prepare include making sure the check-in process goes smoothly for adult-use customers and medical patients, as well as adjusting product pricing.
« The transition should be pretty seamless, and it should be the same flow that we normally do, » he said. « Just taking the extra step and precautions to make sure that we know who rec is, who is medical and that the pricing and information is correct. »
Like Giving Tree, Hana Meds has also hired employees for both its locations to help keep up with the expected demand. The dispensary also is working on expanding to a third location.
« We are somewhat in talks about possibly acquiring a dispensary location in Phoenix, in the Metro areas, » he said. « So that’s a big project that we have going on. So, we are looking to have a presence here in the larger projects in Maricopa County, which is about a population of 4 million, so that’s going to be exciting. »
Eventually, Hana Meds wants to build out and expand its current locations in Green Valley and Kingman, but he is unsure when that process will take place.
The dispensary also plans to expand one of its two cultivation facilities to keep up with the demand.
« We are in the process of expanding our outdoor one, » Phillips said. « We have two greenhouses right now that are 20,000 square feet, but we have an additional 10,000-square-feet one coming in March and 30,000-square-feet one coming in June, and then we have a phase two that will bring us to about 110,000 square feet by 2022. »
Phillips said that Hana Meds is overall excited that the state went in the direction of allowing people to buy and possess recreational cannabis legally, and he expects recreational sales to make a significant impact on Hana Meds.
The dispensary expects recreational sales to start in-store on Feb. 8 once its application is approved.