When Arizonans voted to legalize recreational cannabis in November, it seemed plausible that sales would begin sometime in the spring.
But on Jan. 22, less than three months after the vote, the Arizona Department of Health Services started quickly approving applications, allowing dispensaries to sell cannabis to adults 21 and older immediately.
“It was kind of like ripping a Band-Aid off,” said Jennifer Matarese, the president of a management company that runs Local Joint in Phoenix. Like many other dispensaries in Arizona, Local Joint has been serving medical patients for years; the legalization of recreational cannabis has led to a rapid rise in demand.
Several other states — New Jersey, South Dakota and Montana — voted in favor of legalization in November, and on Thursday, New York State lawmakers reached a deal to advance recreational marijuana legislation this year. Sales remain a distant prospect, though; in South Dakota and Montana, recreational cannabis is unlikely to be on sale before 2022.