Marijuana businesses are spending millions to expand their operations and buy new medical licenses in Arizona, as the passage of Proposition 207 by voters on Election Day will allow sales of recreational marijuana to adults in about four months.
The businesses are expected to hire thousands of employees to meet the demand for legal marijuana, one executive said Thursday.
Some existing dispensaries had already started expansions in anticipation of the measure passing, and the unofficial vote tally set off a fresh round of acquisitions this week as companies snap up the limited dispensary licenses available to prepare for a bustling recreational market.
“We are already building walls and pounding nails,” said Steve Cottrell, president of Curaleaf Arizona. Wakefield, Mass.-based Curaleaf has eight medical-marijuana dispensaries in Arizona and 95 medical and recreational marijuana shops in 23 states.
He said the company is spending about $4 million on upgrades at existing Arizona shops in anticipation of recreational sales, and has prepped for about eight months. Its Glendale shop is more than doubling in size to 5,000 square feet, he said.
“These are all construction projects that have been approved by each municipality,” he said.
In the years since a similar initiative failed in 2016, he said dispensaries in the state have gone from having 1.4 million square feet of cultivation space to about 6 million square feet, giving them plenty of capacity to meet the anticipated demand from recreational sales.
“Plants are sprouting and doing their thing,” he said. “We are well underway. When adult use comes to fruition, we will be more than ready to go.”
Curaleaf has a ninth Arizona license and is seeking zoning approval somewhere in the metro Phoenix area to open a dispensary with it, Cottrell said, declining to disclose the