Raising Arizona

arizona bloom Raising ArizonaThis week Phoenix saw the opening of its very first medical marijuana retail outlet - The Bloom Dispensary. Located on the east side of town, near the airport and a railroad station, Bloom is settled in a neat and tidy one-story building, void of any obvious signs of its product nature. Debra Howard, a patient eagerly awaiting the Wednesday opening of the dispensary, said she was “cautiously optimistic” about medical marijuana use. “I know from talking to people this works for some people and some people it doesn’t. But I would much rather use something like this than go to a harder medication,” Howard said - a trending claim among those seeking medicinal use of the drug for the first time. Upon presentation of her Arizona medical marijuana certification card and a valid photo identification card, Howard will gain access to a plethora of weed-related goods - from pastries to candies and regular old joints - all sold legally under state law. Suffering from chronic pain, like many others in the state, Howard has been waiting for this right since 2010. In 2010 Arizona voters approved medical marijuana use, giving the state the right to set up 126 dispensaries. Of the 98 dispensary licenses applied for by Arizona residents, so far only 16 have been approved, while 13 await inspections in order to open. Currently 37,614 people hold medical marijuana cards in the state, making the demand for medical weed high while the output of product remains zero - leaving patients dry - but unfortunately not high. Just because Mary Jane hasn’t hit the streets of Arizona up until now does not mean that behind the curtain, law makers, researchers, private cooperations and government laboratories haven’t been continuously working for a better, brighter future for marijuana users. Steve Cottrell, owner of AZ Medical Testing, said of the medical industry that “we’re making money, but we definitely have our challenges...now that dispensaries are open, it’s moving forward.” Cottrell’s company, specializing in the testing of medical marijuana for mold or toxic residue from pesticides, is one of the many that will be stimulated by the sale of pot in Arizona. An Arizona State researcher - Tim Hogan - also believes the onset of weed sales in Arizona will boost the  economy, calling the medical marijuana industry “a pretty simple industry,” citing its lack of “nuance” as a component that makes it easy for any type of entrepreneur to invest in. “The main driving mechanism is how many patients,” said Hogan, once you understand this number, as you can with the issuing of medical cards to an extent, many of the blind spots of supply and demand fall away increasing chances of profit.A recent study also showed that the medical industry will spawn the creation of up to 1,500 jobs in the state - that’s nothing to blow smoke at in a stalemate economy. Some were not as positive about the long-awaited flow of medical marijuana in the state. Carolyn Short, opposed to the bill since its introduction in 2010 and now chairwoman of Keep AZ Drug Free, claims Arizonans needs to keep in mind that consuming, purchasing and profiting off of marijuana remains federally illegal. “Every single time a dispensary sells a joint or an ounce, they’re doing something illegal,” said Short, but those on the ground seem less concerned. When asked if he was worried about DEA crackdowns or federal raids, Cottrell of AZ Med Testing said, “Sure, they could come down and knock our door down and arrest us for this plant material, but there’s far more dangerous non-law-abiding people who are doing a lot worse than testing plants for pesticides, and we have to believe the DEA is going after them.”

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