In a scene reminiscent of the NBA draft or a bingo hall, the Arizona Department of Health Services held a random selection on live webcast last week. The prize? One of the state’s few remaining nonprofit medical marijuana dispensary certificates.
The health department received an overwhelming 747 applications during the July 18-29 application period, but only 31 certificates were slated to be handed out last Thursday. Officials picked most of the recipients based on rules the department created five years ago, making most selections through a winnowing process designed to place new dispensaries near the greatest number of medical cannabis patients. Nine of the 31 available certificates were selected via a random drawing.
Each of the new dispensaries must be located within one of the state’s predetermined geographic areas for cannabis businesses. The random drawing was necessary because nine of the state’s so-called Community Health Analysis Areas, used to determine the distribution of dispensaries across the state, drew applicants that were so evenly matched that they were considered ties. To break the ties, a department official and two local accountants oversaw a lottery-style selection process.
Arizona Department of Health Sciences during the lottery selection of nice licenses. Photo from http://azdhs.gov/" width="840" height="526" />Members of the Arizona Department of Health Sciences during the lottery selection of nice licenses. Photo from the Arizona Department of Health Services
About 20 people showed up for the proceedings, held in a small auditorium at the DHS headquarters just south of Van Buren Street on 18th Avenue, in Phoenix. Most of the 747 applicants went home disappointed, not to mention a little lighter in the wallet. Of the certificate’s $5,000 application fee, $4,000 is nonrefundable.
Voters approved a medical marijuana measure in 2010, and today date Arizona is home to 99 dispensaries that legally sell cannabis products to the state’s 100,000 registered patients. The latest round of license applications brought in roughly $3 million. The money goes into the state’s medical marijuana fund.
Nearly all the new dispensaries will be in the Phoenix or Tucson metro areas, which could make them some of the busiest retail stores in the state if voters approve Prop. 205, which would legalize cannabis for all adults over 21. Here’s a complete list of the recently awarded licenses:
|Rank||CHAA Name||CHAA ID||Allocated Application ID|
|1||Paradise Valley Village||46||AZDS000001267|
|19||Yavapai Co. NE||26||AZDS000001514|
|22||Tucson E Central||109||AZDS000000986|
|25||Desert View/North Gateway||42||AZDS000000842|
|28||Maricopa Co. W||51||AZDS000001233|
|29||Lake Havasu City||8||AZDS000001508|