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Arizona holds drawing for social equity permits to sell marijuana

By Matthew Casey
Published: Saturday, April 9, 2022 - 8:03am
Updated: Saturday, April 9, 2022 - 8:04am

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Social equity drawing
Matthew Casey/KJZZ
A staff member with Smartplay International removes zip ties from a sealed case holding a computer built to do a random drawing for social equity licenses at the Arizona Deptartment of Health Services.

The Arizona Department of Health Services held a drawing Friday for marijuana sales permits set aside for Arizonans hurt most by enforcement of old prohibition laws.

Now the 26 winners of a social equity license face a deadline to open a dispensary, or they lose the right to do so.

A social equity license comes with the right to sell marijuana to recreational users only.

This conflicts with some local governments having passed zoning laws specific to medical cannabis.

Tucson, for example, is reportedly months away from having zoning for social equity dispensaries. 

“The 18 month deadline to get your retail location open is a real problem when you look at a potential six-month delay to understanding the ordinance,” said Berekk Blackwell, chief operating officer for Zoned Properties, a real estate company focused on the marijuana industry in Arizona and other states.

Flagstaff is also not zoned for social equity dispensaries, he said. 

All licenses to sell recreational marijuana in Arizona are now spoken for.

“I think it’s going to be a pretty significant undertaking to allow for additional licenses past this social equity round,” said Blackwell.

Arizona has a total of 169 recreational marijuana licenses estimated to be worth millions of dollars each.

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