The Arizona Department of Health Services has licensed the state’s first and second medical marijuana dispensary to Organix and Southern Arizona Integrated Therapies.
Update: Nov 21th – TUCSON
Southern Arizona Integrated Therapies
Dr. Steven Shochat and his team are just waiting for the official email for the Approval to Operate from the State, they plan on opening asap and look forward to servicing the needs of Tucson. Congrats Dr Steve on a job well done, Tucson is looking forward to the first dispensary to open in Tucson.
TUCSON 4 NEWS CHANNEL REPORT: A proposed medical marijuana dispensary was inspected and approved by state officials with the Arizona Department of Health Services Tuesday, according to the shop owners.
Inspectors traveled from Phoenix Tuesday morning to conduct a licensing inspection for the proposed dispensary located near Kolb and Broadway. They arrived at around 11 a.m. and thoroughly inspected the facility for several hours.
As state workers arrived at the east side dispensary, Tucson gets one step closer to opening its first medical pot shop. This dispensary is the second shop inspected statewide but the first in Tucson.
John Gettel, Tucson’s NORML Chapter president carries his medical marijuana card in his back pocket. He got it to help deal with the pain from a near-fatal car accident.
“Marijuana helps me with the residual pain from that…I have compressed discs in my back…I have pain that runs through my feet and my fingers,” Gettel said.
Gettel is hopeful that as dispensaries get closer to opening, that will mean more access for folks like him.
“Dispensaries can be a place for patients to go and feel a part of a community and can often be the time to get out of the house and get out and do something when they’re really struggling with a serious condition,” Gettel told News 4 Tucson.
Will Humble, Director for AZDHS, said if the site was ready to go they could have their opening license by Thanksgiving. However, he admits that the inspections are designed to be thorough.
“There’s a whole host of things we look for, we expect the inspections to take several hours every time we do one of these, but if they’re ready to go, we’ll know right away,” Humble told News 4 Tucson.
That could put the gears in motion to license a dozen or so shops statewide by January 1.
That’s something that John Gettel can appreciate.
“The biggest benefit is going to be a safe secure supply of medicine,” Gettel said.
The owners of the dispensary say they have not yet established a date to officially open their doors.
Update: Nov 20th – PHOENIX
Today the Applicant asked for a short delay in the effective date for their Operating License in order to ensure that things run smoothly when they officially begin operations. Dept of Health Services approved a delay in their license’s effective date this afternoon.
Ryan Wells, the director of Arizona Organix, says he and two other owners of the business are still trying to figure out when to begin retail operations.
As of now, the company doesn’t have enough product on hand to satisfy the expected high demand, Wells says.
The dispensary location has no product at all in the Glendale Avenue location, Wells maintains. Nor does it have a cultivation site set up.
Wells says he and others affiliated with the new dispensary have previously been registered medical-marijuana caregivers under Arizona law, and they still have some of the medicine they grew that could now be legally sold. But it doesn’t make good business sense to announce an opening, only to sell out and have to close until they obtain more marijuana.
Under state law, patients and caregivers could donate marijuana to the dispensary — but they can’t be paid for it. Obviously, that’s going to limit donations. Looking to larger caregiver networks might be the solution they are looking for.
Glendale, which had previously approved the dispensary to operate within the city, doesn’t allow dispensaries to cultivate in the same location as the retail sales operation.
Arizona Organix has found it difficult to nail down an off-site location due to the fears of landlords and the threat of federal action, Wells says, but the company is close to signing a deal to rent space for the growing facility.
When that happens, it will still take a few weeks to grow seeds into teen plants, several more weeks to determine the sex of the plant and about 2 months to allow the plant to flower to a size that would provide several ounces of medicine. Then the medicine/flower needs to be dried for several days (in AZ) and then cured (up to 4 weeks) often in glass jars……
Expectations should be set realistically, with anticipated medicine being provided in 3 months from cracking any seeds. Alternative options often produce mature plants much faster by working with a grower that is skilled at cloning and can provide 24 inch plants to the dispensary for immediate flowering. If combined with a fast flowering, industrial yielding plant similar to 420patients AZ Kush, product could be available sooner.
Wells says he and the other owners are excited, even as they’re a bit nervous over the unsettled legal questions. Not only do they have the feds to worry about, but local right-wingers who want marijuana to stay illegal have challenged Arizona’s voter-approved law in court. A ruling in the case, which pits a would-be Sun City dispensary against Arizona’s Attorney General, Tom Horne, and the Maricopa County Attorney, Bill Montgomery, could come any day.
Getting to this stage has been a two-year ordeal with many bumps along the way, Wells says.
“This has been such a long road for us, a lot of my feelings are pretty well dulled by this point,” he says. Still, “it does feel great” to finally have gotten that state approval.
DHS is scheduled to inspect a Tucson dispensary on Tuesday.
parts of this article was Written for NewTimes by Ray Sterns