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Arizona’s amazing, accelerated path to legalization

The Grand Canyon State narrowly voted against legalizing adult-use cannabis in 2016. Call that Round 1. The New York Times explains what changed between then and last November, when – in Round 2 – the state changed its mind. 

Why the change of heart?

Some of the strongest (and wealthiest) opponents to legalization weren’t there for Round 2, like opioid manufacturer Insys Therapeutics’s founder, who went to jail last year. Another opponent, billionaire casino and hotelier Sheldon Adelson, died.

The pro-legalization side, dubbed ‘Smart and Safe Arizona’, got stronger. Industry leaders Harvest Health, Curaleaf and Copperstate Farms banded together and invested millions and hired PR firm Strategies 360 (who helped unseat former sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is known for sending a team to Hawaii to dig up Barack Obama’s birth certificate).

Timing is everything

The pandemic’s devastating impact on the economy and the presidential election may have also helped: “[Republicans} really had no choice but to accept it, especially when the economy is on a downturn.”

Another factor? A sizable exodus to Arizona from California, where cannabis is more culturally accepted, driven by lower housing costs.

And the forecast looks great, too

With 300,000 registrations in the medical program since 2010, annual sales grew to $1 billion last year. 

Based on those strong medical numbers, Headset’s latest forecast estimates that by 2024, the state’s more than 7 million inhabitants could spend up to $350 annually per capita. 

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