Many Marijuana Businesses in Arizona are Already Setting Up Shop


Although medical marijuana isn't legal yet, more than a dozen companies are already setting up shop in Arizona in hopes of selling cannabis.

The initiative, if passed, will permit just 120 dispensaries in the entire state, and Arizona law does require that the dispensaries be set up as nonprofit corporations. But that isn’t deterring the many people who hope to get one of those licenses.

Among the first in line is Allan Sobol. He’s been hired by Medical Marijuana Dispensaries of Arizona, one of 15 firms that has filed the necessary paperwork with the Arizona Corporation Commission, to get the business up and running and help clear hurdles. In fact, the company is already open for business, though there’s no marijuana to sell. The firm’s website is signing up not only prospective buyers but also doctors who might be interested in referring their patients.

“We call it pre-emptive marketing,” he said.

Proposition 203, if approved, will allow those with a state-issued card to obtain up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks. But to get that card, a patient first needs a written recommendation from a doctor who, according to the measure, will have needed to do a “full assessment” of that person’s medical history.

Legislative budget staffers predicted 39,600 Arizonans are likely to have the medical marijuana cards by 2013, with 26,400 people licensed by the state as caregivers.

The pro-203 campaign is far better financed than any opposition. Campaign finance reports show $640,523 in donations, with the lion’s share of that coming from the national Marijuana Policy Project. Foes operating as Keep Arizona Drug Free had collected just $6,685 as of the latest report.