PHOENIX — When Arizona voters approved Prop 207 last November, it was a solid bet the marijuana business would explode.
It's about to be a billion-dollar industry.
Marijuana sales were more than $970 million through September, according to state revenue figures.
“When I got into this 25 years ago I did not think I would be seeing this,” said Matthew Blum, who works for Grow Sciences, a marijuana cultivator in Phoenix.
The cultivator can grow more than a hundred different strands of cannabis and saw its business expand under medical marijuana.
“We expanded for the medical market these 10,000-square feet. This building is completely built out now,” Blum said.
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Blum and his partners said they could not keep up with the demand once recreational marijuana was legalized. The company looked into purchasing a new property to help meet demand.
Bigger business means bigger spaces
“Scalability is the name of the game in cannabis right now. And the people that are going to be around when all is said and done,” Blum said.
Grow Sciences is currently building a new 80,000 square-foot facility in West Phoenix. The building will quintuple the amount of product they can sell each month. And it will bring jobs.
“Our new building is going to be hiring more than 100 more people,” Blum said.
"More jobs" are a constant message from those in the industry. Sunday Goods, a Central Phoenix dispensary, is building a second, larger location in Tempe.
“I think we will be two to three times over the course of three to five years from where we are today,” said Nicole Cooper, the company's vice president of marketing.
The shop has seen sales rise by more than 40% since recreational marijuana was passed. Cooper said. She said the new location will hire more than 100 people to help keep it running.
With all the money exchanging hands, the state is getting a slice as well.
According to the Arizona Department of Revenue, the state has collected $154 million in tax revenue from marijuana sales in the year's first nine months.
The tax money flows to the state's general and educational funds, cities, counties, and even law enforcement.
So where do we go from here?
“Three years from now cannabis will not look the same as it does today,” Blum said.
With money comes competition. Licenses that allow businesses to sell recreational marijuana are limited, and those who have them will be worth millions.
Already companies from outside the state are making plans to buy licenses and move into the space.
Advocacy groups like the Arizona Cannabis Industry Trade Association want to see Arizona position itself to become an exporter of Marijuana if the drug becomes legal nationwide.
"We want to set up an export state. We want to set up a state where we are manufacturing as many products as possible, cultivating as much product as possible." Demitri Downing, CEO/Founder of Arizona Cannabis Industry Trade Association, said "Export, export, export, that's where we want to be."
“It’s already one of the biggest businesses in Arizona," Blum said "We are already here, it’s only going to get bigger from here.”
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