Santa Cruz County could have its first retail recreational marijuana establishment before the end of this year, as one business owner moves forward with the process to open up shop in Patagonia.
Aari Ruben of Tucson was one of two applicants who were granted a recreational marijuana license by the state earlier this year to open a dispensary in Santa Cruz County. Ruben’s initial application had listed a potential store address in Tubac, but Ruben told the NI earlier this year that he had a slight preference for opening his business in Eastern Santa Cruz County, given his childhood ties to the Sonoita area.
Now, he’s set to begin prepping his business to open on the main drag through Patagonia, at 436 W. Naugle Ave.
“I’m thrilled. It’s part of what our mission has been as an organization for eight years – to provide safe, legal access to medical marijuana in Tucson,” Ruben told the NI on Monday, adding that the voters’ approval of Proposition 207 last fall allowed him to expand into recreational marijuana in rural parts of Arizona.
“We look forward to fulfill that mandate of the voters and expanding our business operations,” he said.
The shop in Patagonia will be Ruben’s second marijuana dispensary in Arizona, alongside the Desert Bloom Re-Leaf Center in southeast Tucson.
Ruben added that his team is currently in the process of making several security changes to the approximately 1,700-square-foot building in preparation for inspection by the state. Once the whole process is completed he said, he hopes to open up shop sometime in October.
He said he anticipates kicking off with a soft opening with about 20 employees on board. The staff could possibly grow to about 30 employees in the future, he said.
The Patagonia Town Council approved Ruben’s application for a special use permit during a regular