Marijuana lottery winners could cash in big come November

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The marijuana dispensary lottery was held on Thursday. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) The marijuana dispensary lottery was held on Thursday. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
Nine medical marijuana licenses were chosen through the lottery. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) Nine medical marijuana licenses were chosen through the lottery. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
If Prop. 205 passes, those who have medical marijuana dispensary licenses will have the first opportunity to sell recreational marijuana. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) If Prop. 205 passes, those who have medical marijuana dispensary licenses will have the first opportunity to sell recreational marijuana. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

State health officials awarded more than two dozen new licenses to sell medical marijuana that could pay off big time for the lucky winners should voters legalize marijuana next month. 

Of the 31 handed out on Thursday, nine were randomly selected through a lottery held at the Arizona Department of Health Services near downtown Phoenix. 

Jerry Chesler was one of the randomly selected winners and said he never thought he'd live to see this day come. 

"This is a dream I've been chasing for 45 years since I was a kid and it looked like legalization was coming in the 70s and now it's really here. Things I never thought I'd see in my lifetime," Chesler said. 

Chesler joins an exclusive group as the holder of one of the state's 130 licenses to legally sell medical marijuana in Arizona. 

But the license could be worth even more should voters pass legalize pot in November.

"There have been lots of people who are scrambling to get those few remaining licenses because those licenses will be gold if Prop. 205 passes," said Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk, a critic of the ballot initiative. 

Should Prop. 205 pass, the state would issue between 140-150 licenses to open a pot dispensary and legally sell marijuana. 

The way the initiative is written, current holders of medical marijuana licenses would get first rights at getting those licenses. 

Polk, who has campaigned against the proposition, described it as creating a marijuana monopoly that would give a select few the exclusive right to profit off legal marijuana sales. 

Even pot supporters like Chesler didn't disagree with the description. 

"It's probably the least attractive thing about the proposition but at the same time these are the people who know the industry the best and these are the people who've put in a lot of blood, sweat, the tears to get this far so it's not completely unfair that they get an unfair advantage," said Chesler. 

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Dennis WlechVeteran political reporter Dennis Welch is a well-respected political expert in Arizona.

Dennis Welch
Political Editor

Before making the move to television, Welch wrote and edited for the Arizona Guardian, a highly influential online news site dedicated to Arizona politics and government where he served as owner and editor. During his Guardian days, Welch was a frequent guest on “Politics Unplugged” and has been a regular fixture on the state political landscape since 2005 appearing on numerous radio and television talk shows. “I am thrilled to start working with such a talented and dedicated staff of journalists,” said Welch. “This is a great opportunity to broaden the reach of my political coverage and tell stories that affect Arizona voters and their families.” With more than 13 years of experience under his belt, Welch’s arrival only strengthens 3TV’s commitment to providing first-rate political and government coverage across all platforms. When not covering politics, Welch is an avid runner and fronts a punk rock band that plays frequently throughout the Southwest and California. Welch is a well-respected political expert in Arizona and his addition means 3TV will provide a stronger, more robust political presence in Arizona. He joins 3TV from the Arizona Guardian, a highly influential online news site dedicated to Arizona politics and government where he served as owner and editor. During his Guardian days, Welch was a frequent guest on “Politics Unplugged” and has been a regular fixture on the state political landscape since 2005 appearing on numerous radio and television talk shows. “I am thrilled to start working with such a talented and dedicated staff of journalists,” said Welch. “This is a great opportunity to broaden the reach of my political coverage and tell stories that affect Arizona voters and their families.” With more than 13 years of experience under his belt, Welch’s arrival only strengthens 3TV’s commitment to providing first-rate political and government coverage across all platforms. When not covering politics, Welch is an avid runner and fronts a punk rock band that plays frequently throughout the Southwest and California.

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