Will legal recreational marijuana make local economy smoking hot?
Arizona is debating legalizing recreation marijuana in 2020. What would that mean to the Kingman area?
KINGMAN – How would legal recreational marijuana affect the Kingman area?
Arizona legalized medical marijuana in 2010, and now the program has 200,000 patients, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services March 2019 report.
Kingman is only half an hour from Laughlin, Nevada and an hour from Needles, California, cities in states with legal recreational cannabis. That means that locals go and spend money out of state – that includes food, gas, and accommodations. In the meantime, rural Colorado presents a case for using legal cannabis to reshape local economies and attract turism.
“We did not do a lot of research yet,” said Tami Ursenbach, director of the Mohave County Economic Development Department. “There are a lot of things that need to be considered. I know for example that legal cannabis business made purchasing land in Colorado difficult.”
According to Ryan Randazzo, who covers energy, utilities and business for AZ Central, people still don’t realize how big the cannabis industry is. A decade ago nobody believed that anyone would invest money in a business that remains illegal at the federal level. But people did invest millions of dollars, said Randazzo in an AZ Central podcast, The Gaggle, and the federal government maintained a hands off approach.
“Now, the industry is massive,” Randazzo said. “Much bigger than people ever anticipated. There is a lot of money at play.”
The list of related businesses is large, with bong shops, fertilizer shops, edibles manufacturers, vaping pen manufacturers and more. Many consider the industry a job machine, with medical marijuana business in Arizona already employing thousands of people, including security personnel.
“These are not local businesses anymore,” Randazzo said. “They are mature businesses, publically traded companies on Canadian security exchange. The largest is based here in Arizona. Three of four other largest nationwide have operations in Arizona.”
“If recreational cannabis becomes legal, we will be thinking how to attract businesses,” Ursenbach said. “And we will be thinking what else we can do with this product.”
Ducey signed a bill last month that, starting this month, cuts the cost of having a medical marijuana card in half.
The 2020 initiative to legalize recreational marijuana is being managed by Smart & Safe Arizona, with the assistance of Attorney Roopali Desai.
At the moment, 33 states in the U.S. have legal medical marijuana, and 11 recreational, including most recently Illinois.