After abruptly closing in March, Untamed Herbs is scheduled to reopen, but no longer as a medical marijuana dispensary. Instead, the owners won a license to operate an adult use or recreational marijuana dispensary.
Andrew Provencio started Untamed Herbs, then known as Uncle Herbs in 2013.
He has since seen the dispensary go through a name change as well as brought on new partners.
Recently, he transferred the dispensary’s license to a JARS location in the Valley, which meant the Payson location, at 200 N. Tonto St., had to close.
Provencio, 62, said he had been planning to sell the license for the past year or two as he anticipates retirement.
“Being the majority owner and wanting to get out of business to retire, I wanted to sell,” he said. “I knew if I sold it, whoever bought it would move it to the Valley because the value of the dispensary would be far greater in the Valley.”
Provencio said some Valley dispensaries bring in $2 million to $3.5 million in sales a month — six times what they see in Payson.
Provencio knew once he sold the license and it was moved to the Valley that meant Payson would be without a dispensary.
He, along with others, lobbied the state to create an additional license that could not be moved, such as to the Valley.
Recently, the state held a lottery to award 13 adult use dispensary sales licenses.
To enter the lottery, applicants had to put up $25,000 per application, which was nonrefundable.
There were 56 applications put in for Gila County, including roughly a dozen from a partnership group that included Provencio, Pam Donner, also of Untamed Herbs and Ronnie Kassab, president of JARS Arizona.
Provencio said they knew they had a small chance of winning a license, so were thrilled when they saw they had won.
The plan is to reopen Untamed Herbs under the JARS name in the next 60 days or less.
The dispensary will sell for adult/recreational use only.
Medical patients can still order product for pickup, but will have to do so online. They can then pick it up at the Tonto location once a week.
“I know it is really inconvenient for the customer,” he said.
Provencio said they are lobbying the state to allow them to sell medical as well under the new license.
Those visiting JARS Payson once it opens will see new displays and products, but a lot of “the same faces.”
The percentage of people aged 12 years and older who reported using marijuana during the prior year increased from 11% in 2002 to 17.5%, or 48.2 million people, in 2019, according to the report, “Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States,” published in September 2020 by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA).