Axios Phoenix

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🤘 Happy Wednesday! You're in the middle of the ride, as local band Jimmy Eat World would say.

☀️ Today's weather: Sunny and breezy with a high of 75.

ğŸŽ‚ Happy birthday to our Axios Phoenix member Al Bell!

Today's newsletter is 852 words — a 3.2-minute read.

1 big thing: AG takes aim at delta-8 THC

Photo: Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Arizona retailers that aren't licensed to sell marijuana cannot sell hemp-derived substances like delta-8 THC, the Arizona attorney general said Monday.

Why it matters: Arizona is one of many states that have unsuccessfully sought to crack down on unregulated products like delta-8 and delta-10, which are often sold at smoke shops and other businesses without the age restrictions or other regulations imposed on medicinal and recreational marijuana.

Zoom in: Delta-8 is chemically similar to delta-9 THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. It's manufactured from the cannabidiol, or CBD, that occurs naturally in hemp.

Driving the news: In an opinion issued Monday, Attorney General Kris Mayes said that while a 2018 federal law arguably legalized hemp-synthesized intoxicants like delta-8, she found that state law, in fact, does not.

  • Therefore, delta-8 sales are permitted only at businesses or other entities licensed by the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) to sell cannabis.

Reality check: Attorney general opinions aren't legally binding.

Yes, but: Mayes spokesperson Richie Taylor tells Axios the opinion isn't enforceable in the same way a court order is but says this is what the office believes state law says "and we expect people will comply with that."

  • The attorney general will work with the governor's office and state agencies such as ADHS to ensure the law is enforced.
  • That means the office expects that unlicensed businesses will stop selling the products, he says.

The other side: Jon Udell, a spokesperson for the Arizona chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, called the opinion disappointing, saying it gives the state's marijuana industry a monopoly, the Arizona Mirror reported.

  • Phoenix attorney Tom Dean, who specializes in cannabis law, told the Mirror he's interested in putting together a coalition to go to court to settle the issue.

What's next: ADHS had no comment on whether it would begin enforcing marijuana laws against businesses that sell delta-8.

Read more

2. 👋 Buh-bye, CrossFit

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

We're no longer in the heyday of HIIT (high-intensity interval training) and CrossFit. Now, low-impact workouts — and particularly Pilates — are all the rage for American adults.

Why it matters: As longevity becomes a primary health focus, a growing number of exercisers are opting for movements that advance their day-to-day functioning and better protect them from injury.

By the numbers: In metro Phoenix, Pilates ClassPass bookings increased 139% in 2023, compared with 2022, according to data shared with Axios.

  • The most popular Pilates studio on the fitness booking platform was Scottsdale's Body Politik, which uses the Lagree method.
  • Overall, Pilates was the most popular ClassPass workout of 2023, with booking reservations up 92% from 2022, according to data shared with Axios.
  • And Yelp searches for Pilates increased 25% from the previous year.

The big picture: The surge in interest in workouts like Pilates has to do with a mindset shift.

  • Many people now exercise primarily for health and longevity reasons.
  • More than one-third of Americans say they prefer low-intensity training exclusively, according to fitness software firm Mindbody.

What we're watching: "Functional fitness" is the workout buzzword of the moment.

3. Chips & salsa: Love for Caleb Love

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

🏀 UofA's Caleb Love was named the final Pac-12 Player of the Year in men's basketball before the conference breaks up. (Arizona Sports)

👮 Former state GOP party chair Kelli Ward told a law enforcement officer she "tapped" a woman with a piece of paper during January's party meeting but denied committing an assault, per a police report.

  • She may face prosecution for the incident. (AZcentral)

🔫 Mesa will host the World Field Target Championship at Rio Salado Sportsman's Club this November. (Phoenix Business Journal)

4. Phoenix Lights put Arizona on the UFO map

Gov. Fife Symington and chief of staff Jay Heiler, wearing an alien costume at a 1997 press conference. Screenshot: CNN

Twenty-seven years ago today, the Phoenix Lights incident propelled Arizona into the annals of UFO lore.

Catch up quick: On the night of March 13, 1997, people in the Phoenix area reported seeing a grouping of lights arranged in a "V" shape hovering over the Valley.

  • A second sighting later that night was reported by a police officer who said he saw a series of red-orange lights hanging over the Valley.

The intrigue: The second sighting was attributed to Maryland Air National Guard aircraft dropping flares during a training exercise.

Flashback: The incident prompted one of the most memorable press conferences in Arizona history a few months later when Gov. Fife Symington brought out his chief of staff dressed as an alien.

Share this with someone who saw it

5. 👽 Aliens love AZ

👽 Reported UFO sightings per 100k residents
Data: National UFO Reporting Center, U.S. Census; Map: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

Maricopa County had about 56 UFO sightings per 100,000 residents between 2000 and 2023, according to the National UFO Reporting Center data.

  • That's compared with the national average of 34.3 sightings per 100,000 residents.

Zoom out: Other parts of the state — notably La Paz and Gila counties — reported mysterious airborne objects at an even higher rate.

Reality check: Despite rising public acceptance of UFO chatter, there's still no proof that we're being visited by extraterrestrials.

  • Many of these sightings are likely military activity, satellites and scientific phenomena.
  • But the truth, as they say, is out there.

🛸 Jeremy didn't see the Phoenix Lights in 1997, but he remembers being very skeptical when his friends told him they'd just seen a UFO.

🗡️ Jessica is completely obsessed with "The Traitors." She finished both U.S. seasons and is now watching the U.K. version.

This newsletter was edited by Emma Hurt and copy edited by Jay Bennett.

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