Aug 9, 2022 - News

Phoenix's Trulieve dispensary signifies greater marijuana acceptance

Arizona cannabis sales
Data: Headset; Chart: Nicki Camberg/Axios

The first Trulieve dispensary opened last week on Roosevelt Row in downtown Phoenix with buy-one-get-one deals, a proclamation from Mayor Kate Gallego and ribbon cutting by state Rep. Jen Longdon (D).

  • The dispensary's premier location, political embrace and out-the-door line illustrated marijuana's appeal and its evolving public perception in Arizona.

State of play: Florida-based Trulieve acquired Harvest Health & Recreation Inc. of Tempe last year.

  • Harvest was Arizona's marijuana retailer and the now-combined company is the world's largest.
  • Harvest dispensaries in Arizona will be rebranded in the coming months.

Why it matters: Cannabis became a big industry in Arizona almost overnight after recreational sales began in late January 2021. Out-of-state companies, such as Trulieve, are eager to capitalize on the new market.

Flashback: Arizona voters overwhelmingly approved recreational marijuana use in November 2020 after rejecting it just four years earlier.

Details: Trulieve started in Florida, where only medical marijuana is legal.

  • Founder and CEO Kim Rivers tells Axios that the product offerings are similar across both markets, but the company can now incorporate "more swagger and fun" into its marketing and advertising in Phoenix.
  • "Just being able to be more celebratory in terms of the community of cannabis has been wonderful to experience."

By the numbers: Marijuana sales averaged about $89 million per month in the six months prior to the start of recreational sales, when only medical sales could occur.

  • The average monthly sales in the six months after recreational weed was legalized topped $167 million, according to cannabis market researcher Headset.
  • The state collected about $308.5 million in marijuana taxes between Jan. 2021 and May 2022, according to the Arizona Department of Revenue.

Yes, but: Sales are down compared with this time last year.

  • March 2021 saw the highest monthly revenue at $178.6 million. Last month's sales only hit about $149 million.

Arizona Dispensaries Association president Ryan Hermansky says recreational sales likely started out at an inflated level because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • People were still not going out to bars and clubs as much in the first half of 2021, which may have resulted in more at-home marijuana use.
  • Stimulus checks also played a role in some purchases, he says.
  • Now that more entertainment options are available and the "newness" of recreational marijuana sales has worn off, the market is likely sinking into a more realistic state.

What he's saying: Hermansky also says increased gas and food prices may be cutting into people's weed spending.

  • "The word on the street is that alcohol is recession-proof. I think we'll find out soon if marijuana is, too."
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