Arizona models marijuana cultivation after California dispensaries

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As Arizona learns the ropes of legal, recreational marijuana, California has become the expert for preparing for, and adapting to the spike in customers.

Arizona cultivators are going to have to ramp up their marijuana production to keep up while still giving priority to medical patients.


There are now nearly 100 approved recreational licenses in Arizona.

Spencer Andrews, public affair director for March and Ash in Imperial says the dispensary saw a 20% increase in sales since it made the switch in August 2020. Although, it still provides options for medical customers.

"The industry has to mature to accommodate the increased market, obviously, and so there's going to be more people in Arizona shopping for cannabis," Andrews said. "Cultivators, manufacturers, etc, they're going to have to prepare for an increased demand."

Andrews explained, California modeled its cannabis industry after Colorado. Now Arizona is emulating California. Eventually, Arizona will be used as an example for other states that chose to legalize recreational marijuana down the line.

Adam Goers is the VP of corporate affairs at Columbia Care in Tempe, where they also cultivate their own cannabis.

"We've been making the investments necessary for some time in advance, so whether that's expanding out cultivation facility, looking at more opportunities to expand," Goers explained.

Columbia Care was one of the first 73 dispensaries in Arizona to be granted the establishment license to begin selling marijuana recreationally.

Cultivation is a three month process they call seed to sell.

Growing indoors in a controlled environment can also be more efficient for the plant.

"It's measures of TCH and CBD and other things we call the minor cannabinoids, and when grown indoors under more controlled conditions, it leads to better yields," Goers stated. "Just generally, but yield in weight and quantity but also in quality."

There are additional requirements under the Arizona Department of Health Services that ensure the quality of the cannabis.

"We have cultivation scientists that are helping make sure that these plants grow healthy and strong and compliant too to make sure that there's no molds or heavy metals or anything in it like that," Goers said.

The cultivation process also includes drying and curing before undergoing a testing facility.

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