Cannabis Questions: How will the legalization of recreational weed affect the Southern AZ economy?

SOUTHERN ARIZONA (KVOA) – The legalization of recreational marijuana has sparked all kinds of questions including some hitting close to home,

Q: How will this affect our Southern Arizona economy and are growers keeping up with the demand?

Row after row of marijuana plants have taken root in Southern Arizona. It’s been legal medicinally, but now operations are shifting to supply recreational users, too.

Charles Remme, the General Manager of Nature Med has been in the marijuana business for over half a decade.

“It’s growing,” Remme said. “It’s quickly growing. It’s been an exciting fun journey to start as something so small market.”

But after a few years, the business is anything but small. Seeing a single seed sprout into one of the next driving forces of the economy has been exciting for Remme. At first, grow houses and dispensaries catered to around 240,000 medical patients in Arizona. After the passing of recreational cannabis, that number is growing like weeds into potential millions.

Remme told News 4 Tucson growers are having to shift and accommodate to keep up with the growing demand.

“The scaling is obviously going to be the biggest change,” Remme said. “Nature Med operates with a 4,000 square foot building. In a few months, the operation will grow more than double in size to more than 10 thousand square feet.”

This new plant will allow more room for products and more room to grow the business. Manny Villa is the Cultivation Coordinator for Nature Med. He is one of the masterminds in charge of cloning, transferring, curing and drying cannabis. He said coming to work every day is all about adapting.

“Every day we need to stay up to date knowing the new strains,” Villa said.

Remme said as the market expands so will the jobs in Southern Arizona. He said as the business evolves more growing operations will pop up.

“We’re lucky to employ 38 people right now,” Remme said. “Once we start selling recreational marijuana that will be closer to 50 and once we move next door we will be at over 150 to 175 employees.”

Even though it’s been a slow process, getting approved, moving to recreational use and even growing the plants — Remme said big things are in store. The economy is going and growing.

As we dive deeper into the industry and things turn to “normal,” another question in left with Arizonans:

Q: Will the economic trajectory continue or will it dry up?

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