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Is 'cannabis' Arizona's sixth C?

Recreational marijuana is legal in the Copper State. And some people are cashing in.

PHOENIX, Arizona — Arizona has always been known for its five Cs: Cotton, copper, citrus, climate, and cattle.

2021 adds another C: Cannabis. 

You'd never know it, but inside a nondescript building in Casa Grande is a multi-million dollar state-of-the-art pot-growing operation. 

Bryce Skalla, president and co-founder of Item 9 Labs, says that his business plans to expand.

"Down here we have 20,000 square feet on five acres. We'll be expanding to 682,000 square feet."

Now that marijuana is legal in Arizona, business is booming. The profit margin for a business like Skalla's can be more than 20%, Skalla said.

Federal laws make it impossible for marijuana growers to get credit

Even with high-profit margins, the stakes continue to rise. The distribution of marijuana is legal in Arizona, but pot is still considered a schedule one drug at the federal level. 

This federal stance on marijuana makes it hard for Skalla and businesses like his to find banks that will work with them.

Skalla says that if his business has an unexpected expense, he may not get the help he needs.

"We don't have debt facilities," he says. "If our air conditioning goes down to the tune of $200,000 you can take a loan from your bank. That is not an option in our world." 

Because of this disparity, marijuana-related businesses often run on a cash-only basis. 

Brittany Bolier, an operator of The Local Joint, shares that her business only takes cash because "there's no way to take a debit or credit card because it doesn't link to anything and so it's tricky."

The marijuana business doesn't seem to be going anywhere but up.

For more information about legal marijuana in Arizona, follow the 12 News YouTube channel.