Local Spice Retailers Face Uncertain Future If Medical Marijuana Bill Passes

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If medical marijuana becomes legal in Arizona, sales of cannabis could trump spice.
This week began with the news that Proposition 203, Arizona's Medical Marijuana Initiative, is still alive. Though the latest figures show the measure is failing by a little more than 3,000 votes, there are still around 59,000 early and provisional ballots that must be counted by week's end.

We've long thought that the biggest reason spice (aka herbal incense, aka synthetic marijuana) is so popular here is because it's currently legal in Arizona, and pot is not. So if Proposition 203 passes and medical marijuana is legalized, what will that do to the thriving spice industry here?

We talked with some local spice sellers to get their take on the potential business impacts of a Prop 203 passage.

Local company Wisemen Spice has been selling a variety of potent spice blends in several different flavors through smoke shops and Craigslist ads. A spokesman for the company, who didn't want to be named, says he doesn't think a Prop 203 victory will impact his spice business very much.

"Even if medical marijuana is legal, there are still drug tests for recreational users to worry about, and a lot of people may not want others to know they're smoking pot," he says. "Any marijuana proposition could affect anybody's business, but some people prefer spice over marijuana, anyway. We have loyal customers who've been dealing with us and really enjoy the product."

"As spice sellers, we still voted 'yes' on Prop 203," he adds. "We're enthusiasts, whether it's spice or marijuana."

Nick Mathison, manager of Traders Smoke Shop in Peoria, says that if Prop 203 passes, it could have an impact on spice sales. "There's a good chance that people who were using spice to get by would just use medical marijuana instead," he says. "If people could legally buy marijuana, they'd spend their money on that, and not spice. It might take a dent out of the market, but it's been such a hot item for so long that I can't see it dying off completely."

If Prop 203 passes, Mathison says, "Chances are, we'd try to get into the dispensary business. It's a win-win for us either way -- if it passes, we'd try the dispensary approach. If it doesn't pass, we'll still sell spice."


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3 comments
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Gregory J. Gonzales
Gregory J. Gonzales

What's wrong with the spice industry going down? While there would be job loss, at least there wouldn't be as many people smoking some synthetic crap that no one actually knows much about. If we're going to have a big industry, let's make sure it isn't selling people plant matter with chemicals sprayed on it.

malcolmkyle
malcolmkyle

If you support prohibition then you're either a black market profiteer, a terrorist, a corrupt politician, a sadomoralist, a socialist or a fake-conservative.

If you support prohibition then you've helped trigger the worst crime wave in history, raising gang warfare to a level not seen since the days of alcohol bootlegging.

If you support prohibition you've a helped create a black market with massive incentives to hook both adults and children alike.

If you support prohibition you've helped to make these dangerous substances available in schools and prisons.

If you support prohibition you've helped put previously unknown and contaminated drugs on the streets.

If you support prohibition you've helped to escalate Murder, Theft, Muggings and Burglaries.

If you support prohibition you've helped to divert scarce law-enforcement resources away from protecting your fellow citizens from the ever escalating violence against their person or property.

If you support prohibition you've helped to prevent the sick and dying from obtaining safe and effective medication.

If you support prohibition you've helped remove many important civil liberties from those citizens you falsely claim to represent.

If you support prohibition you've helped create the prison-for-profit synergy with drug lords.

If you support prohibition you've helped escalate the number of people on welfare who can't find employment due to their felony status.

If you support prohibition you're responsible for the horrific racial disparities which have breed generations of incarcerated and disenfranchised Afro Americans.

If you support prohibition you've helped evolve local gangs into transnational enterprises with intricate power structures that reach into every corner of society, controlling vast swaths of territory with significant social and military resources at their disposal.

If you support prohibition you're promoting a policy which kills our children, endangers our troops, counteracts our foreign policy and reduces much of the developing world to anarchy.

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