By Anne Holland According to an economic impact study of the nascent AZ MMJ dispensary industry, retail sales of medical cannabis in the state could grow to as much as $440 million by 2016, when the industry is expected to reach maturity with 112 regulated dispensaries open.
MMJ Business Daily’s own forecasts are about half that figure – mainly due to the fact that the study projects $4,000 in sales per patient per year, whereas according to data in MMJ Business Daily’s Marijuana Business Factbook 2013, the typical figure in other states tends to be in the $2000 range. (This may be due to a discrepancy in the retail price per ounce in AZ currently versus that of states with more competition.) However, the way in which the Arizona study was created, as well as how it’s been publicized, are both excellent models for cannabis business booster groups in other states to emulate.
Firstly, although the study was commissioned by the Regulated Dispensaries of Arizona Association (RDAA), who reporters might suspect of bias, the RDAA were smart to hire a highly respected outsider to actually create it. Study author Dr. Timothy Hogan is the retired director of Arizona State University’s William Seidman Research Institute, and the published author of dozens of economic impact studies on everything from hospitals to car dealerships. His background and the scholarly manner in which he wrote the study gives it tremendous merit.
Secondly, although the findings covered everything from typical dispensary employee pay ($15 per hour for staff, $80k per year for management) to the estimated future number of patients (105,000 by 2016), the RDAA spun their press release to focus on almost entirely on state tax revenues (estimated $36 million) and new jobs (1,520.)
Local newspapers and broadcast media were happy to pick up and run stories on these benefits, usually leading with the jobs angle. (You can see a typical example here.) And, the story has legs, with fresh pick-ups coming out as recently as yesterday more than a month after the press release was distributed to local media. Given the brevity of a typical news cycle, this longevity is outstanding.
Considering creating a similar study to evangelize the cannabis industry in your own region? You can download a 5-page PDF of the AZ dispensary study summary to examine it for yourself here.