Dried cannabis flower

How Many Social Equity Cannabis Business Licenses Has Arizona Issued?

On November 2, 2010, Arizona voters approved the state’s medical cannabis initiative (Proposition 203) with 50.13% of the vote. The Arizona Department of Health Services finalized medical cannabis dispensary and registry identification card regulations on March 28, 2011, with the first legal medical cannabis purchase being made on December 6, 2012.

In 2020, 60% of Arizona voters approved Proposition 207 (the Smart and Safe Act), which legalized cannabis for adult use and regulated the state’s recreational cannabis industry. Cannabis sales are subject to the Arizona sales tax rate of 5.6% in addition to a 16% excise tax.

The excise tax revenue is used to fund the Arizona Department of Health Services and Department of Public Safety’s regulatory activities.  The remaining revenue generated by legal Arizona adult-use cannabis sales is split among community colleges (33%), police and fire departments (31.4%), the state highway fund (25.4%), a justice reinvestment fund (10%), and the attorney general for enforcement (0.2%).

“With the passing of Proposition 207, the state established a Social Equity Ownership Program within the Arizona Department of Health Services, which oversees recreational and medical marijuana licensing. The department held a lottery for 26 of these social equity dispensary licenses in 2022.” stated AZMirror in its coverage. Arizona reportedly has issued 170 dispensary licenses total.

“Applicants had to meet three out of four prerequisites. Among the criteria: earn an annual income less than 400% of the federal poverty level, be affected by the enforcement of previous marijuana laws or related to someone who had, or live in a ZIP code that experienced a disproportionate effect from previous marijuana law enforcement.” AZMirror also stated.

“Recreational marijuana sales for 2023 totaled about $1.1 billion, and medical contributed $348 million for total 2023 sales reaching $1.43 billion. Recreational sales amounted for more than 76 percent of the total, an increase from the 70 percent of sales it represented in 2022. In 2021, the first year adult-use recreational sales were legal, they were just 45 percent of the total.” stated Marijuana Moment in its reporting about Arizona’s legal cannabis industry.

The United States adult-use cannabis industry has generated over $20 billion in total tax revenue since the first legal recreational cannabis purchase was made in Colorado on January 1st, 2014 according to a report by the Marijuana Policy Project.

“Through the first quarter of 2024, states have reported a combined total of more than $20 billion in tax revenue from legal, adult-use cannabis sales. In 2023 alone, legalization states generated more than $4 billion in cannabis tax revenue from adult-use sales, which is the most revenue generated by cannabis sales in a single year.” the Marijuana Policy Project stated in a press release.

79% of people living in the United States lived in a county with at least one regulated cannabis dispensary according to an analysis by the Pew Research Center. The Pew Research Center also found the following:

  • 74% of people in the U.S. live in a state where recreational or medical cannabis is legal
  • There are nearly 15,000 cannabis dispensaries in the U.S.
  • California has the most overall dispensaries (3,659)
  • Oklahoma has the most dispensaries per capita (36 dispensaries for every 100,000 residents)

Total legal cannabis sales in the United States are expected to reach $31.4 billion in 2024 according to a recent analysis by Whitney Economics. Additionally, leading cannabis jobs platform Vangst, in conjunction with Whitney Economics, estimates that the legal cannabis industry now supports 440,445 full time-equivalent cannabis jobs in the United States.

Whitney Economics also projects the following legal cannabis sales figures in the United States for the coming years:

  • 2024: $31.4 billion (9.1% growth from 2023)
  • 2025: $35.2 billion (12.1% growth from 2024)
  • 2030: $67.2 billion
  • 2035: $87.0 billion

The emerging legal cannabis industry in the United States is projected to add roughly $112 billion to the nation’s economy in 2024 according to an analysis by MJBiz Daily. The projection is part of the company’s 2024 MJBiz Factbook.

“The total U.S. economic impact generated by regulated marijuana sales could top $112.4 billion in 2024, about 12% more than last year,” MJBiz stated in its initial reporting.