Celebrating 3 big moments of 2023 in Arizona weed | Phoenix New Times


Celebrating 3 big moments of 2023 in Arizona weed

Arizona cannabis sales topped $1 billion, new brands emerged and the state invested in psilocybin research efforts this year.
Recreational cannabis sales topped $1 billion, making Arizona one of eight states to hit the billion-dollar mark.
Recreational cannabis sales topped $1 billion, making Arizona one of eight states to hit the billion-dollar mark. O'Hara Shipe
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From heated debates about the safety of consuming delta-8 products to legislation to reduce the cost of medical marijuana cards, cannabis was a hot topic in 2023.

Phoenix edible-makers RR Brothers debuted a new line of functional fungi gummies and the Flower Shop introduced a women-centric line of products called Ladylike. Tempe's Sonoran Roots was also named one of the fastest-growing companies in U.S. by Inc. magazine.

The continued expansion of the Arizona cannabis market made it difficult to curate the biggest moments in cannabis this year. But after much deliberation, we settled on the following three moments.
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"I always say, ‘If we’re not developing, we’re dying,’” said Greta Brandt, president of The Flower Shop.
O'Hara Shipe

Arizona cannabis sales top $1 billion (again)

Arizona legalized recreational cannabis by passing Proposition 207 in November 2020, and since then, the state has seen record-setting sales. For the third year in a row, recreational cannabis sales topped $1 billion, making Arizona one of eight states to hit the billion-dollar mark. Of those, Arizona has the second newest recreational market. Missouri, which legalized recreational cannabis in 2023, is the youngest market.

In 2022, recreational sales reached $950 million and accounted for 70% of total sales. By comparison, medical marijuana brought in slightly more than $500 million. In 2023, the medical market continued to plummet, bringing in $267 million through September, while recreational cannabis sales totaled $797 million. Additionally, the excise tax on adult-use marijuana sales yielded about $406.3 million through November. Final totals for 2023 won’t be released by the Arizona Department of Revenue until after the new year.

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Global cannabis brand, Cookies, set up shop in the Valley in June.
O'Hara Shipe

Cookies comes to the Valley

Parking enforcement, or rather the lack of enforcement, on South Hardy Drive in Tempe was a hot topic on June 24. That’s because the iconic California-based cannabis brand Cookies had opened shop, and stoners of every ilk wanted to be at the grand opening — even if it meant parking on sidewalks, in front of turn lanes and on private property. For those lucky enough to avoid being towed, the event was lit, with the company’s enigmatic founder, Berner, even making an appearance.

"You know, I grew up in Chandler, and Arizona has always been a big part of who I am," Berner told Phoenix New Times. "I am proud to be bringing Cookies to the Valley."

Cookies' expansion into Arizona was made possible by a partnership with Alicia Deals, who was awarded a social equity cannabis license in 2022. Deals was one of just 26 applicants — out of a pool of 1,301 — to be randomly selected for the licenses.
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The medical benefits of magic mushrooms are getting serious attention to thanks to $5 million in state funding.
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Arizona to spend $5 million studying magic mushrooms

In May, Arizona lawmakers successfully lobbied to use $5 million of the state’s nearly $18 billion budget. Although it was a fraction of the $30 million the failed HB 2486 proposed, it still put Arizona on the map as the first state to publicly fund research into natural psilocybin.

“There’s never been a single controlled study on the planet looking at whole mushrooms, which is what people are taking day-to-day,” Sue Sisley, a doctor and president of the nonprofit Field to Healed Foundation, which conducts studies on plant medicines and psychedelics, told Phoenix New Times in May.

The state’s psilocybin research efforts will assess the efficacy of mushrooms to treat a variety of ailments. While there’s no scientific proof yet, patient experience suggests that in addition to pain and PTSD, mushrooms can help treat addiction, anxiety, eating disorders, long COVID and chronic pain.
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