Hello, this is a letter from the frontlines of a dispensary to our medical marijuana patients in Arizona as our state has officially become recreational… I feel for you! Working at a dispensary right now is not for the faint of heart, it is a fast paced, emotional time. While Arizona voters chose legalization back in November, ultimately it was up to the state to decide when to approve the licenses for dispensaries to sell. And while this historic moment should be celebrated, I wanted to write to the medical patients that I hear from who have legitimate concerns. To go from a private club where only about five percent of Arizona’s population had access to this medicine to having the door open to anyone 21 years of age or older, in state or out of state, initially there was no way the supply could keep up with the demand. So the number one question I get today from medical patients is how their dispensary experience is going to change.
The first and most obvious change is medical patients are having to wait longer to get into their dispensary. Where I work, there are two lines separating medical and recreational patients and someone to coordinate the traffic, but by the time they get to the counter, the longer wait time usually has tested their patience. And for the medical patients who are battling serious illnesses or working through PTSD or anxiety, I do feel bad that someone on vacation from Texas, Iowa, wherever, can make their experience worse. After all, the timing of our state going “rec” coincided with some of our best weather, along with stimulus checks, and spring break season, so the amount of out of state IDs I’ve seen has been shocking. With growing lines/wait times, inventory on product has gone down, and prices that medical patients were used to paying are starting to rise. When one adds it all up, I am very much empathetic to the situation and as a result have been doing a lot of consoling at work lately. Either that or I am someone’s punching bag as they just want to vent their frustrations, but since only going rec two months ago it has been a trying time for medical patients.
Longer lines, higher prices, deals going away, it is not hard to see why people in Arizona with medical marijuana cards have been frustrated lately. While we should celebrate the progress made for marijuana to become legal, one could make the argument that going to a dispensary has become a worse experience. In the end, while it is medicine, it comes down to money and it is a greedy time as the demand is being taken advantage of. Hopefully, dispensaries continue to prioritize medical patients and at least for now it is still worth having your card. Depending on where a medical patient goes, one can still save a lot of money, but I have heard horror stories of dispensaries flipping on medical patients in the just short two months since it’s become rec.
Since the market has exploded with new patients, many I have seen from out of state, dispensaries know they can get away with charging more. Not only are medical patient deals going away, but at the worst I have heard a dispensary actually selling products exclusively to recreational patients; that’s just insulting. Inevitably this was going to happen as Arizona adjusts to a new, mega booming industry. While having your card still has its perks, including being able to purchase more than someone who is rec, better prices/deals, less taxes. It is hard to argue against a patient who has been buying legally in Arizona for years now having to fight the crowds to buy the products they know. Ultimately, I just wanted to let medical patients know that there are people in the industry that still care. Let’s hang in there together.
Ryan Fitzgerald, originally from Milwaukee, WI, is a student of history, a lover of music, competitive games, and a cannabis enthusiast. He writes about cannabis history, culture and current events.