We happened to speak recently with Jigar Patel on the afternoon of Friday, January 22 — the day the very first Arizona dispensaries received surprise approval from the state to begin selling recreational marijuana. Many operators were scrambling to get their shops ready to serve the coming onslaught of eager cannabis customers. Lines were forming. Social media was abuzz.
But Patel, CEO of the Arizona-based cannabis company Nature’s Medicines, wasn’t in any particular rush.
“We’re planning to apply [to sell recreational] next week,” he said. “We want to make sure we’re ready as a company first — product labeling, software, website, all that — before we open the doors for it [recreational].”
One reason for the lack of urgency? Nature's Medicines is perhaps more focused on the "medicine" part of its name than the average pot dispensary, as we learned in our conversation with Patel.
Backstory: Nature's Medicines was founded in 2014. Prior to that, Patel worked as a pharmacist for 11 years. "It gave me a retail perspective as well as a medical perspective," Patel said. "It was very helpful having that experience when I got into the cannabis space. My brother and I did some research on the Arizona market — we looked at Colorado first — and in 2014 decided to invest quite a few dollars in Arizona, and we've been growing here since."
Retail Locations: In addition to its dispensaries in six other states (Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania), Nature's Medicines operates three dispensaries in its home state of Arizona:
Phoenix: 2439 W. McDowell Road
Glendale: 6840 Grand Avenue
Happy Valley: 24905 N. 7th Avenue
As of Friday, January 29, all three locations are now selling both recreational and medical marijuana.
Cultivation Facilities: Nature's Medicines is vertically integrated: "About 92 percent of the product we sell is our own product," Patel said. "We also wholesale to other dispensaries in the Valley." Right now, the company has 300,000 square feet of marijuana under cultivation at two sites: one behind its McDowell Road dispensary, and another in Amado, a blip of a town on Interstate 19 between Tucson and Nogales. The latter is the larger of the two. "We grow there but we also have a processing facility there for concentrates," Patel said. Nature's Medicines also has a facility in Fountain Hills where it makes edibles.
Products: "The usual: edibles, concentrates, flowers," Patel said. "We have sativa-indica hybrids, soda beverages, gummies, pixie sticks, brownies, cookies." Nature's Medicines has several brands under its aegis, including Reefer Gladness (edibles), Nature's Every Day (the generic house brand), and Phoenix Cannabis Company (higher-end flower, cartridges, and concentrates). "We're pretty sensitive on how we price," Patel said. "We take pride in offering better medicines at a lower price."
Post-legalization Outlook: "We strongly believe the demand for medical will be there," Patel said. "Those with medical cards have access to higher-dosage products than you can't get with recreational. And the allotments patients can get are higher — 2.5 ounces every 14 days — whereas with rec you can only get one ounce at a time." Delivery is another advantage, he said. MMJ delivery is legal in Arizona, but recreational delivery isn't yet, and Nature's Medicines has its own delivery program for medical patients.