It’s not just the warm temperatures and golf courses that lure new residents to Arizona.
Cannabis users are relocating here because of our medical-marijuana laws, cheaper pot prices, and access to dispensaries, according to a real-estate blog.
“Wow, look who just barely slipped into the top 10, a state more famous for its putting greens than its leafy greens,” the website stated. "The state has the 11th-cheapest weed prices, the 10th-most cannabis-related Google searches, the fifth-most expressed interest in various marijuana publications on Facebook, and the 15th most pot smokers — 6.61 percent."
Three of the top states on the list — Colorado, Washington and Oregon — have recreational marijuana laws on the books. Washington D.C. and Alaska also have adult-use laws.
For now, marijuana is only legal in Arizona when prescribed by a doctor, although there will likely be a vote in November to make recreational use of the drug legal.
Still, Scottsdale medical-marijuana doctor Elaine Burns of the Southwest Medical Marijuana Evaluation Center says access to cannabis is a factor for some patients to relocate here.
“I do know of situations where parents who have children with epilepsy or cancer have relocated to Arizona or another medical-marijuana state so they could get treatment for their children,” says Burns.
One factor in the study was the percentage of people reporting marijuana use in the previous month. In Arizona, that was an estimated 438,000 adults, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration.
The cost for medical marijuana in the state also is relatively low compared to other parts of the country, adding to Arizona's appeal. The average cost of high-quality weed per ounce is $298.15, and $188.30 per ounce for low-quality, according to PriceofWeed.com.
But because recreational use of marijuana still is banned, our state also may lose some residents.
Arizona native Mason Tvert, a marijuana advocate, says he specifically moved to Colorado to campaign for recreational cannabis legislation.
“Colorado is demonstrating to the rest of the nation that regulating marijuana works,” says Tvert, the director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project. “The laws are showing you can replace the underground weed market with a legitimate, legal marijuana business ... You can stop punishing adults for using marijuana, and the sky won’t fall.”
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Still, Tvert says he believes attitudes about recreational marijuana use have shifted and that recreational use of the drug could soon become legal locally.
“The support has grown in Arizona because there has been far more public dialogue about marijuana,” says Tvert, who has been credited for helping legalize weed in Colorado. “The more people hear and talk about marijuana, the more they realize the benefits and support legislation.”
Correction: Of the four states topping the list, Colorado, Washington and Oregon have recreational-use laws.