Arizona awards 31 new dispensary licenses

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The Arizona Department of Health Services on Thursday announced the winners of 31 new medical cannabis licenses.

Sort of.

After holding a livestreamed lottery Thursday afternoon for nine of the 31 licenses, the agency posted a full list of the license winners’ application ID numbers online but did not identify any of the winners.

Health Department public information officer Holly Ward said in an email Friday that the agency is “bound to confidentiality law” and is unable to disclose the names or locations of the winners.

There are already 94 operating dispensaries in Arizona, along with another five that have received licenses but are not yet up and running. That brings the total of licensed MMJ dispensaries to 130.

The new 31 dispensaries were selected from a pool of 750 applicants, all of which submitted bids for licenses between July 18-29. The nine that were chosen via lottery were all tied in their respective geographic areas, called Community Health Analysis Areas (CHAAs), and the other 22 were chosen based on their location and nearby patient density, explained industry attorney Ryan Hurley.

“They draw a 10-mile circle around your proposed address, so a 20-mile diameter, they count up the number of current MMJ cardholders in that circle, and they divided it by the number of existing operating dispensaries in that circle, and they came up with a score,” Hurley said. “There’s only a lottery if there’s a tie score based on the address.”

For example, the lottery portion included 24 applications for a single CHAA, in Lake Havasu City. But that was because the town is so small that anything outside a 10-mile diameter is nothing but desert, Hurley said.

The winners will be allowed to set up medical marijuana dispensaries within 60 days of receiving their licenses, so the state could have 31 more operational dispensaries within a few months.