TUSCON, AZ — Over two years after Arizona voters authorized the use of medical marijuana, the first dispensary in the Grand Canyon State has finally opened in Tuscon. Southern Arizona Integrated Therapies opened this weekend to pre-register patients and caregivers, and will begin dispensing medical cannabis on December 11.
The road to opening the first dispensary in Arizona was a long one, facing strong opposition from the governor, local prosecutors, and police, but the final hurdle was cleared last week when inspectors from the state Department of Health gave the green light to open for business.
“Walking into the dispensary is much like walking into a doctor’s office or a pharmacy, with privacy and security being our highest priority,” said Dr. Steven Shochat, the dispensary’s director.
Medical marijuana products will be laboratory tested for patient safety, and the office employs armed security guards for patient protection. Patients must have an appointment to enter the dispensary.
Southern Arizona Integrated Therapies is proceeding with the required documentation, inspections and approvals to operate its own cannabis cultivation center, which is anticipated to be operational within the next few months. Until that time, they are allowed under state law to accept donations of excess medical marijuana from registered caregivers and patients that are authorized to cultivate cannabis.
The opening of the central Tuscon dispensary will trigger a provision in Arizona’s medical marijuana law restricting home cultivation by patients within 25 miles of the dispensary, who will no longer be allowed to grow their own medicine. Arizona law only allows medical marijuana patients and their caregivers to grow cannabis if they are located more than 25 miles from a dispensary.
The provision will apply to almost all medical marijuana patients living in the Tuscon area. The provision applies immediately to patients obtaining new medical marijuana cards from the state, and to current medical marijuana card holders when their cards come up for annual renewal.
Only one other dispensary has been authorized in Arizona. Last month, Arizona Organix in Glendale received approval to open from state inspectors, but the dispensary is not yet ready to open. Dispensary operators estimate a late December or early January opening.
Southern Arizona Integrated Therapies is located in the Gaslight Village Plaza on Kolb Road in central Tuscon. Medical marijuana patients can make an appointment by calling (520) 886-1003 or by visiting the dispensary’s website.
Southern Arizona Integrated Therapies is a non-profit dispensary operated by Green Medicine, Inc.