Hundreds in Arizona spend $25,000 each to enter cannabis license lottery

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Nearly 400 hopeful cannabis entrepreneurs ponied up $25,000 apiece for a shot at an upcoming business license lottery, which will determine the winners of 13 new permits.

According to the Arizona Republic, the state Department of Health Services received 377 competing applications as of the Tuesday deadline for the 13 vertically integrated licenses.

The permits will be available only in eight rural counties: Apache, Cochise, Gila, Graham, Greenlee, La Paz, Santa Cruz and Yuma.

It’s unclear when the licenses will be awarded, but a Health Services spokesperson told the Republic that for counties with fewer than two dispensaries – Cochise, Graham and Yuma – the lottery will take place “sometime in April.”

Industry officials estimate the rural-area licenses will be worth at least $5 million. By contrast, permits in urban centers such as Phoenix are worth closer to $20 million.

The state will also be issuing an additional 26 licenses later this year as part of the social equity program that was baked into Proposition 207, the voter-approved initiative that legalized adult-use marijuana in Arizona last year.