Medical-Marijuana Warehouse Brings Pot Growers Together to Serve Patients' Needs

The freedom to grow marijuana granted by the state's 2010 medical-pot law is blossoming along with the plants in an El Mirage warehouse.

Bill Hayes, founder of the Arizona Cannabis Society, invited New Times inside last week for a peek at their operation. (See our slideshow of the tour here.)

A couple of years ago, this marijuana nursery would have been kept top-secret by growers who risked going to prison for it. But because of the successful passage of the 2010 Medical Marijuana Act, those growers are now gainfully employed in a legal business.

Hayes had no problem with New Times publishing the company's address. (It's 8376 N. El Mirage Road.) Nor did he mind if we let readers know that, by overseeing a crop of high-quality pot, he's just doing what he's done illegally for much of his life.

Following a probation violation stemming from his third bust, he was sentenced to a year in prison.

"I spent that year at the law library," says Hayes, 36. "I refuse to stop growing pot."

These days, no one's making him stop. Under Arizona law, as a qualified medical-marijuana patient, he can legally grow 12 plants. Employees and volunteers at the collective are patients themselves, and some are registered caregivers, meaning they can grow 12 plants for each of five patients.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.
Contact: Ray Stern