ONLY ON KOLD: High times, huge spaces - Tucson News Now

ONLY ON KOLD: High times, huge spaces

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Dispensary owners say Tucson has a lot of potential with its big, empty warehouses that would be ideal spots for marijuana growers to plant their crops.

The problem? Zoning laws in Tucson restrict the farms to 3,000 square feet.

Down the road in Phoenix and Santa Cruz County, where there are no zoning limits, Tucson News Now found farms ten times the size, which is larger than a football field.

TNN went inside one of these mega farms to see why dispensary owners want the farms in Tucson.

At Arizona Natural Selections, one of the largest medical marijuana facilities in Phoenix at 58,000 square feet, business is blooming.

Arizona dispensaries sold about $40 million worth of medical marijuana in 2013, about $500,000 in sales per dispensary.

Demand has been high and..

"It grows everyday. We see new people that come in every day," said JP Holyoak, the operations manager at Arizona Natural Selections.

People like Tommy Smith, a cardholder with Multiple Sclerosis says switching from narcotics to nature changed his life.

"Those pills, they didn't help me," Smith said. "They made it worse [and] they hurt me. I'm going to be very honest with you, miss. Medical marijuana doesn't hurt me. It allows me to live."

Many dispensary owners say now they need more product. Many Tucson dispensary owners said what they can grow here just isn't enough and they're buying their medical marijuana from farms in Phoenix.

Holyoak, a financial advisor turned dispensary owner, said he gets calls from Tucson dispensaries every day. He allowed our cameras inside his cultivation site  to show us what you could call a dream farm for some Tucson dispensary owners.

Not all of it is being used right now, but with growing demand, there's room to grow as well.

When you pull into the parking lot, all you'll see is a non-descript concrete building. As soon as the door opens, you're slammed with the strong smell of medical marijuana plants. But before you see them, there are several layers of surveillance, including dozens of cameras and locked doors.

They purify their own water, grow their own clones, harvest and even cook the medical marijuana to create edibles, like cookies and brownies.

Approximately 53 strains of medical marijuana are sprouting up in his farm, Holyoak said. He can account for every single plant in the rooms.

"It is one of the most heavily regulated industries in the country," he said. "We track every single plant, from seed to sale. The Department of Health Services can show up at our doorstep on moment's notice [and] ask to see all of our records from start to finish."

Tucson city officials will be looking at the zoning ordinance during a study session next month.

Copyright 2014 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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