Payson has had a point of sale for years to meet the needs of the medical marijuana community in the area.
Then the voters in Arizona changed everything.
They passed an initiative that allows recreational marijuana use for anyone aged 21 and over.
The vote caused considerable consequences on site.
The medical marijuana pharmacy closed after the owner sold the license and the new license holder moved operations to the Valley.
Medical users can still pick up orders placed online, but recreational users will have to go elsewhere or set up a greenhouse. The new initiative allows people to grow their own, provided that no more than six plants per person are growing in a secure structure that is not visible from the street.
Most complicated of all, the council has to revise the city rules to allow a pharmacy for recreational use only.
To kickstart the process, the council heard a report in early June on what the new law means for the city and its laws.
“When (City of Payson) first took action against (recreational) … marijuana (decided) to be issued by only one dual license holder,” said Sheila DeSchaaf, city assistant manager and public works director.
A dual license holder can sell both recreational and medical marijuana, but Andrew Provencio, owner and founder of Payson Pharmacy, wanted to make sure the community always had a physical store.
“I knew if I sold (the license) the license would move to the Valley,” he said.
DeSchaaf said there were legitimate concerns.
The state regulations originally required that the licenses for medical pharmacies in an area set by the Ministry of Health had to remain “for a period of at least three years,” said DeSchaaf.
“After the three-year period expired, the majority of medical license holders moved their facilities to metropolitan areas because they were worth much more due to the volume of customers / sales,” she said.
On top of the complications, Provencio wants to retire soon. But he said his concern for the community had prevented him from retiring.
Once he understood that the state would offer site-specific recreational licenses, he knew he had a solution. Obtain a license for Gila County that would stay in the area after he retired and sold the business.
One problem was that the state had few of these recreational licenses, so Provencio had to win the lottery to get a license.
He hit the jackpot and received two country-specific licenses. He can set up pharmacies anywhere in the county, but he told the council during the June meeting that he would prefer to keep the shop front in Payson.
Now the city of Payson has to catch up on Provencio’s plans.
DeSchaaf said the city has only provided for a double license, with no more than two allowed in the city limits. The council held numerous discussions and agreed that the council had no interest in turning into a tourist center with a pharmacy on every corner.
The local council is aware that the sales taxes that the pharmacy generates help the bottom line and therefore has no interest in throwing Provencio out of town.
You just need time to update these codes.
Meanwhile, Provencio continues to offer online ordering and roadside collection for the city’s medical marijuana community.
The state levies the normal 6.6% sales tax on marijuana sales in addition to the additional local tax. Payson has a 3% sales tax that it does not share with the state. Although one of the highest tax rates in the state, the additional tax helped the city get out of the recession.
In addition to these taxes, the state imposes an additional 16% excise tax on marijuana, bringing the total tax on marijuana in Payson to around 25%.
In the first two months, recreational marijuana was sold and the state collected more than $ 2 million in taxes. Medical marijuana sales from January through mid-February raised $ 1.4 million and recreational marijuana sales raised $ 226,000.
The number should rise quickly as new recreational pharmacies open across the state.
In neighboring Colorado, total marijuana sales exceeded $ 2 billion in 2020. The state levied $ 387 million in taxes in 2020. The state imposes a 3% sales tax and a 15% excise tax on retail marijuana. The state legalized pot in 2014.
Marijuana use has increased modestly in most age groups since legalization, according to annual polls by the Drug Abuse and Mental Health Authority.
The percentage of Coloradans over 18 who have used marijuana in the last month increased from 15% in 2013/14 to 17% in 2016/17. Consumption remains highest among 18 to 25-year-olds, with 32% reporting consumption in the last month. Strangely enough, self-reported use among the 12 to 17 people decreased from 12% to 9%.
Other studies have reported more serious effects, including an increase in fatal car accidents in which drivers tested positive for marijuana – although there is no blood test to measure levels of marijuana impairment.
Hospitals have also reported an increase in emergency rooms and mental health issues related to marijuana since the drug was legalized.
Provencio has plans to give medical users some sort of discount once it is only opened for recreational activities. Medical marijuana patients pay a $ 200 fee to the state for their license.
The council will discuss the city rules regarding marijuana dispensaries at a future meeting.