This week began with the news that Proposition 203, Arizona's Medical Marijuana Initiative, is still alive. Though the latest figures show the measure is failing by a little more than 3,000 votes, there are still around 59,000 early and provisional ballots that must be counted by week's end.
We've long thought that the biggest reason spice (aka herbal incense, aka synthetic marijuana) is so popular here is because it's currently legal in Arizona, and pot is not. So if Proposition 203 passes and medical marijuana is legalized, what will that do to the thriving spice industry here?
We talked with some local spice sellers to get their take on the potential business impacts of a Prop 203 passage.
Local companyWisemen Spice
has been selling a variety of potent spice blends in several different flavors through smoke shops and Craigslist ads. A spokesman for the company, who didn't want to be named, says he doesn't think a Prop 203 victory will impact his spice business very much.
"Even if medical marijuana is legal, there are still drug tests for recreational users to worry about, and a lot of people may not want others to know they're smoking pot," he says. "Any marijuana proposition could affect anybody's business, but some people prefer spice over marijuana, anyway. We have loyal customers who've been dealing with us and really enjoy the product."
"As spice sellers, we still voted 'yes' on Prop 203," he adds. "We're enthusiasts, whether it's spice or marijuana."
Nick Mathison, manager of Traders Smoke Shop in Peoria, says that if Prop 203 passes, it could have an impact on spice sales. "There's a good chance that people who were using spice to get by would just use medical marijuana instead," he says. "If people could legally buy marijuana, they'd spend their money on that, and not spice. It might take a dent out of the market, but it's been such a hot item for so long that I can't see it dying off completely."
If Prop 203 passes, Mathison says, "Chances are, we'd try to get into the dispensary business. It's a win-win for us either way -- if it passes, we'd try the dispensary approach. If it doesn't pass, we'll still sell spice."
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.