PHOENIX — A company that hopes to be the largest marijuana operation in Arizona, if not the nation, is expanding its holdings ahead of what is likely to be an expensive ballot fight to legalize the drug for recreational purposes.
Harvest Health and Recreation just completed the purchase of Leaf Life, the only medical marijuana dispensary in Casa Grande. With already existing stores and some pending acquisitions, company spokesman Alex Howe said that should bring Harvest’s total in Arizona to 13 and to close to 140 nationwide.
And that doesn’t count cultivation and manufacturing facilities here and elsewhere.
But this is more than just about getting bigger.
Harvest Health President Steve White is one of the movers behind a plan to launch an initiative within the coming weeks to put a measure on the ballot in 2020 to expand who can purchase and use marijuana.
That opens some major financial opportunities for major operations like Harvest, which already has provided $300,000 to the Smart and Safe Arizona campaign, which will push for the legalization initiative, to put the issue to voters. Another $300,000 came from Cure Leaf, another national marijuana firm, with $100,000 from MedMen cannabis dispensaries.
Current law allows those with certain medical conditions and a doctor’s recommendation to obtain up to 2½ ounces of marijuana every two weeks.
At last count there were slightly more than 200,000 people who had cards issued by the state Department of Health Services. And those patients smoked, ate or otherwise consumed nearly 60 tons of the drug in 2018.
Allowing recreational use of marijuana, as is now permitted in Colorado, California and Nevada along with other states, would sharply increase the possibilities for sales.