By: Mikel Weisser, staff writer
This month, Arizona’s very first medical marijuana dispensary reaches a new milestone. Arizona Organix celebrates its Sixth Anniversary. The Glendale location first opened its doors on Dec 6, 2012. Back in the day, founders Ryan Wells and father and son team Bill and Ben Myer faced stiff opposition. When the store first tried to get going, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, county prosecutor Bill Montgomery, and Attorney General Tom Horne all took a swing at trying to prevent the facility from opening. Even Governor Jan Brewer herself led the fight against the scrappy store that wouldn’t say die when her office filed lawsuits that delayed the opening for more than a year and initially caused some folks to joke the store should have been called “Target,” since so many law enforcement officials were gunning for them.
At first, the menu only included a selection of cannabis flower, hashish, and kief. Nonetheless, once the store managed to open its doors, patients flooded in and the state’s MMJ industry was officially borne. Since then, Arizona Organix has remained one of the valley’s busiest MMJ dispensaries and wins numerous awards each year at the State’s annual cannabis contest: The Errl Cup.
The two years of legal wrangling also established a young attorney named Ryan Hurley as the original AZ cannabis freedom fighter who put an end to the state’s efforts to stop the industry from developing. “It was uncharted territory,” he explains, “They were extremely brave to take the risk.” These days, Hurley serves as in-house counsel for one of the biggest cannabis companies in America, Copperstate Farms. “I was very fortunate to have such an exceptional client willing to fight for the community.”
Ben Myer still spends his time operating the company’s cultivation and production facility in nearby west Phoenix. He laughs, looking back at their struggles in the early years. “It has been a long hard road, no doubt about it, but we’re just glad we were able to bust the door down for everything else that’s followed,” Myer smiles. We all should. This year NCIA estimates that in 2018 the AZ medical marijuana industry will top $600,000,000 in sales.