PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- The Arizona Department of Public Health says it has approved licenses for businesses to sell recreational marijuana.
According to agency spokesman Steve Elliott, ADHS has given the green light to 86 establishments in nine of the state’s 15 counties since the process opened on Wednesday. With the new license, approved vendors can start selling recreational marijuana "as soon as they are ready to do so."
“It’s an exciting step for those that want to participate in that program,” said Dr. Cara Christ, Arizona’s state health director, on Friday.
Many customers in line at Mint Dispensary off Baseline Road and Priest Drive admitted they had used marijuana long before it was legal.
“I’ve been waiting 20 plus years, always scared about getting arrested and getting in trouble or losing job opportunities,” David Pearce said.
With social distancing markers in place, there were dozens of people inside, able to buy up to an ounce of marijuana in its various forms. Some customers spent hundreds of dollars.
“I’m happy. I’m excited. I’m stoked. I’m just ready,” said a woman who only identified herself as Joy.
Harvest Dispensary in Scottsdale was also hopping. Owner Steve White claims they had the first legal, recreational transaction in the state.
“The speed with which the Department of Health Services rolled out this program was faster than anyone anticipated,” he said.
Dispensaries had been gearing up for weeks so as not to be caught off guard when the licenses came down. Mint sent out an email blast and turned on 12 billboards to welcome customers.
“It was literally the push of a button,” marketing director Raul Molina said. “We had our advertisers on standby. We had the workers on standby.”
Proposition 207, nicknamed the "Pot Prop" made recreational marijuana legal when voters approved it the November election. Now, anyone 21 and older can legally buy, possess, and consume 1 ounce of marijuana. But smoking it in public places will still be banned.
Arizona prosecutors dropped thousands of marijuana possession cases after the measure was approved. Possession in the state technically became legal when the election results were certified on Nov. 30 but there was no authorized way to purchase it without a medical marijuana card.