COCHISE COUNTY — It’s unclear whether the corporation that was awarded the state license to operate one more cannabis dispensary in Cochise County will open in Douglas as originally planned, officials say.
The recreational marijuana shop could end up in Sierra Vista, local officials said earlier this month.
The company, listed as Formula 420 Cannabis, LLC, on the application sent to Douglas city officials several months ago, canceled the purchase of the property where it had proposed to build the dispensary, Douglas city officials and the realtor representing the license holder said.
Sierra Vista community development officials confirmed that the company’s representative — realtor Alfonso Munoz — contacted them in June with questions about zoning regulations and possible locations where a dispensary could either open, or be built from the ground up, said senior planner Jeff Pregler.
Munoz, who is also the Douglas realtor who handled the cancellation of the purchase of the property for Formula 420 Cannabis, told the Herald/Review earlier this month that the company’s officials are “weighing their options” and trying to determine which city would be the most financially feasible for a dispensary.
By state law, the dispensary license may be transferred from one city to the next, but it must remain in the county where it was awarded. The license also may be sold, but Munoz said that would probably not happen in this case.
Arizona voters legalized recreational marijuana in November. Medical cannabis products have been legal in the state since 2010.
The company was awarded the dispensary license in April via a random drawing held at the Arizona Department of Health Services for rural counties in the state eligible to obtain licenses to open marijuana dispensaries within their jurisdictions. Each county was allowed two licenses.
Cochise County was eligible for only one new license, since there is already a medical/recreational dispensary in Bisbee, the Green Farmacy.
A total of 32 applications from Cochise County for a dispensary license were sent to the state’s health department, which oversees the licensing of marijuana dispensaries. The applications included 11 from Sierra Vista, nine from Bisbee, nine from Douglas and three from Willcox.
But after Formula 420 Cannabis was awarded the license, its agent — listed as Kimberly Wagner of San Tan Valley — never contacted Douglas city officials to discuss plans for the dispensary, which was planned for Chino Road and 5th Street, said Douglas City Planner Peter Gardner.
According to state law, the dispensary must be up and running 18 months from the date the license is awarded.
“We’ve never spoken to them,” Gardner said. “We even heard that they pulled out because they thought Douglas would not be welcoming to them.”
Douglas Mayor Donald Huish is familiar with Formula 420 Cannabis’ qualms and said he and Gardner had been trying to get word to the company via Munoz to meet with them.
But that has not happened, Gardner said Friday. Sierra Vista city officials also have not heard back from Munoz since last month, but the realtor told the Herald/Review on Friday that he should have more information this week.
Huish said he would welcome the dispensary to Douglas because of the revenue it would produce for the city. Some Sierra Vista city officials have echoed a similar sentiment.
In Arizona, adult-use retail purchases are subject to a 16% cannabis excise tax in addition to a 5.6% statewide retail sales tax. Medical cannabis purchases are subject to a 6.6% state excise tax plus an additional 2-3% optional tax dictated by local municipalities.
On top of the licenses that were divvied out in April, 26 more licenses that will be awarded sometime early next year, said Steve Elliott, a spokesman with the Arizona Department of Health Services. The licenses, called social equity licenses, will be awarded to people who meet certain criteria, state officials said.
Individuals applying for the special licenses must meet at least three of these requirements: The person has a household income in at least three of the previous five years that, for the respective year, was less than 400% of the federal poverty level;
- the person has been adversely affected by the enforcement of previous marijuana laws;
- the person was convicted in Arizona of a violation of federal or state law related to marijuana or marijuana paraphernalia;
- the person has been adversely affected by the enforcement of previous marijuana laws because the individual is related to another individual who was convicted in Arizona of a violation of federal or state laws related to marijuana or marijuana paraphernalia;
- and the person has a physical address, and has lived for at least three of the previous five years at the physical address, in a community that has been identified by the Department as being disproportionately affected by the enforcement of Arizona’s previous marijuana laws.
Elliott said the state will accept applications for these licenses from Dec. 1-14.
“Once the applications are processed, all substantially complete applications will be part of a random selection to issue the 26 available licenses,” Elliott said in an email. “The rules do not currently have any location/geographic requirements for the initial application.”