Cannabis in Arizona: Over 1,500 applications filed for social equity pot licenses valued at over $10M

Over 1,500 applications have been filed for the 26 social equity dispensary licenses that Arizona’s public health agency plans to issue under the state’s voter-approved law legalizing recreational marijuana.

The Department of Health Services is reviewing the applications filed by Tuesday's deadline and has said a random selection process to award the social equity licenses will be conducted next spring.

However, it’s too soon to say when the review process will be completed and the license winners selected, department spokesman Tom Herrmann told the Arizona Daily Star.

The licenses, potentially worth millions of dollars, will be issued under the 2020 ballot measure’s provision to set aside 26 licenses for "people from communities disproportionately impacted by the enforcement of previous marijuana laws."

The license affords the owner the ability to potentially start their own marijuana business - or, as Marijuana Industry Trade Association founder Demetri Downing explains, they could potentially sell that license right away if their application is picked.

"People will see if they won, and at that moment they will know they would have won a license, instantly, valued at 10 to 15 million dollars," Downing said.

More than 1500 people submitted an application - paying 4,000 nonrefundable dollars for the chance at just one of 26 licenses.

$4,000 for a shot at $10 million.

The state has made $6 million from applications alone. That money goes to the Smart and Safe Arizona Fund, which has percentages that are divvied up between community colleges and public safety among other things.

Applicant speaks out

Arianna Munoz is playing the lottery. Not quite the Powerball, but something close.

"I’m praying everyday I get picked," Munoz said. "There’s about 1506 people who also put in the applications themselves, so my chances aren’t too high, but I have faith."

Munoz has two applications in for herself and two for her mom to try and get a lucrative marijuana social equity license from the state of Arizona.

"I came up with the money between me and my family, it was hard, it took a couple months," Munoz said.

For Arianna Munoz, a person who was hit with a possession charge in high school, the potential payoff is worth the risk.

"Creating generational wealth, operating a dispensary would be ideal, but I’m not saying that selling a dispensary wouldn’t grant you that same generational wealth," Munoz said.

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