Marijuanopoly: Inside the high risk, high reward game of Arizona’s pot industry

By Ali Swenson | Phoenix New Times 

Arizona’s cannabis industry is a strategic game — with huge payouts.

The applications were in, the photo backdrop had been unfurled, and the media was gathered in tightly at the state laboratory in Phoenix. All that was left to do for the three polo-clad Arizona Department of Health Services staff was turn on the Atom Action Bubble-Top Bingo Blower and begin.

It was August 7, 2012, and the state health department was using a $1,600 bingo machine to select numbers in a lottery drawing. More than 400 applicants were vying for fewer than 100 spots. Cameras clicked as the staffers dumped the first set of bingo balls into the machine, locked it shut, and waited for one to fly out of the cage. Over the next few hours, the process would determine which applicants won the first rights to open a nonprofit medical marijuana dispensary in Arizona.

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