High Fliers: Marijuana Shop Relocates Closer To Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport

High Fliers: Marijuana Shop Relocates Closer To Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport

By Corinne Murdock |

While going to or from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, travelers may now make a pit stop at a new nearby marijuana shop.

The store is one of 16 locations in the state owned by Curaleaf, a marijuana dispensary company with 147 locations across 17 states. There are three other marijuana stores near the airport as well: JARS Cannabis, Local Joint by Zen Leaf, and Sunday Good Dispensary. 

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) lists marijuana as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act: the highest classification shared by some of the most addictive and dangerous illicit drugs, like heroin and crack cocaine. The DEA describes Schedule I drugs as those with high potentials for abuse and creation of severe addiction.

Current DEA data reports that long-term, regular use of marijuana can lead to both physical and psychological dependence and withdrawal, as well as health problems such as bronchitis, emphysema, bronchial asthma, and suppression of the immune system.

The DEA’s take on marijuana may be subject to change in the near future. Last month, the DEA confirmed it was conducting a review to reschedule marijuana. Days later, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) released hundreds of documents outlining its recommendation to DEA to reschedule marijuana to a Schedule III drug. 

In the meantime, current DEA scheduling means that marijuana products may not be transported over state lines, even between two states that have legalized marijuana — the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) technically prohibits the inclusion of marijuana in checked and carry-on bags. Officially, passengers may only bring products with .3 percent THC or less on a dry weight basis, or those approved by the FDA. 

However, the TSA does disclose that its officers don’t actively look for marijuana during bag checks, and that it’s ultimately up to the officers to determine whether the passenger may proceed to travel with marijuana items.

“TSA’s screening procedures are focused on security and are designed to detect potential threats to aviation and passengers,” states TSA. “Accordingly, TSA security officers do not search for marijuana or other illegal drugs, but if any illegal substance is discovered during security screening, TSA will refer the matter to a law enforcement officer. The final decision rests with the TSA officer on whether an item is allowed through the checkpoint.”

That room for personal judgment appears to be in active use at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, according to travelers. 

In recent months, some online users out of Phoenix claimed in a Reddit forum that they traveled successfully in and out of the airport with marijuana products. 

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) data, there are 200 marijuana facilities and nearly 20,000 providers in the state. 

The state legalized recreational marijuana use in 2020. The ballot measure, Proposition 207, ensured that adults over the age of 21 may possess up to an ounce of marijuana legally. 

The state imposes both a transaction privilege tax and a 16 percent excise tax on marijuana sales. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Hard Drugs Top Marijuana For Busts Along Arizona Border

Hard Drugs Top Marijuana For Busts Along Arizona Border

By Corinne Murdock |

The amount of smuggled marijuana seized at the Arizona border dropped 91 percent so far this past fiscal year while seizures of other, harder drugs have increased. It appears from Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) data that hard drugs like methamphetamine, fentanyl, and cocaine supplanted marijuana as smugglers’ preferred substances. 

The decreased seizures correlate somewhat with Arizona’s marijuana legalization through Prop 207, or the “Smart and Safe Arizona Act,” during the 2020 election. Arizona’s marijuana seizures dropped about 35 percent from fiscal years 2019 to 2020, and 71 percent from 2020 to 2021. (The CBP fiscal year runs from October to September). 

Arizona’s seizures of meth dropped from nearly 20,800 pounds to nearly 18,900 pounds, nine percent, from 2019 to 2020, then increased by three percent from 2020 to 2021. It appears that this year’s meth seizures will remain within margin, though at present agents have seized 1,100 pounds less than this time last fiscal year.

Conversely, the state’s fentanyl seizures grew over the past three fiscal years. From 2019 to 2020, seizures increased 79 percent, then 65 percent from 2020 to 2021. If seizure rates continue as they have this year, there will be more fentanyl seized than in 2021: over 2,600 pounds. 

Fentanyl, one of the deadliest street drugs per CDC overdose data, comes in the form of a pill to resemble its legal counterpart prescribed by doctors. Cartels like the notorious Sinaloa Cartel mark the synthetic opioid with an “M30” stamp to disguise it as the painkiller oxycodone, which is manufactured by pharmaceutical companies. 

Overdoses may occur with as low as two milligrams of fentanyl. The National Institute of Health (NIH) reports that fentanyl accounts for the majority of opioid overdose deaths in the U.S.

According to the CDC, Arizona has one of the leading overdose death rates in the country. 

Cocaine seizures dropped off in fiscal year 2021, but they’ve remained consistently high over the past three years. Seizures increased from over 1,800 pounds to a high of nearly 2,200 pounds, 19 percent, from 2019 to 2020 before falling by 59 percent in 2021. This year, however, cocaine seizures have rebounded at rates that may surpass 2019 levels and fall slightly behind or run even with 2020 levels. 

Heroin seizures have dropped significantly since 2020.

John Modlin, chief patrol agent of Border Patrol (BP) Tucson Sector, last posted about the seizure of personal use marijuana in February, and a major seizure of marijuana in January 2021. 

By comparison, Modlin has posted frequent updates about meth and fentanyl busts over the past year. 

The chief patrol agent for BP Yuma Sector, Chris Clem, hasn’t posted about a major marijuana seizure since last March. However, Clem’s offered more frequent updates on meth, fentanyl, cocaine, and heroin seizures.

According to CBP data, the number of drug seizures across all border sectors have dropped consistently since 2013. The reduced seizures appear to correlate with marijuana legalization across numerous states, considering the vast majority of drug seizures were marijuana in eight of the past 10 years. All border states except Idaho, Indiana, Wisconsin, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes.

In addition to Arizona, the following states have legalized recreational marijuana usage: Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. Additionally, recreational marijuana is legal in Washington, D.C.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Pinal County Sheriffs Gifted Seized Equipment to High School Agriculture Students

Pinal County Sheriffs Gifted Seized Equipment to High School Agriculture Students

By Corinne Murdock |

The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) announced Tuesday that they gave equipment seized in an illegal marijuana growing operation to a local high school for their agriculture classes. The seizure occurred in 2017, approximately three years before marijuana legalization in the state. 

“Back in 2017, PCSO seized these lights and other hydroponic equipment as evidence in an illegal marijuana grow operation bust outside of Maricopa,” wrote PCSO. “We recently donated it all to a nearby high school so it can have a second (legal) life teaching agriculture students.”

In November 2020, Arizona legalized recreational marijuana for adults 21 and over through the voter initiative Proposition 207, the “Smart and Safe Arizona Act.” Voters approved the measure by 60 percent of the vote. Additionally, Proposition 207 allowed individuals to petition courts to seal their marijuana-related criminal records dated before November 30, 2020. Applicable records included possession, consumption, or transportation of 2.5 ounces or less of marijuana or 12.5 grams of marijuana concentrate; possession, transportation, cultivation, or processing up to six marijuana plants at a primary residence for personal use; and possession, use, or transportation of paraphernalia related to cultivating, manufacturing, processing, or consuming marijuana. 

Prior to the passage of Proposition 207, several similar proposals failed when brought to the ballot: Proposition 203 in 2002 and Proposition 205 in 2016. Advancements in marijuana legalization occurred in 1996 with the legalization of medically-prescribed marijuana in Proposition 200, and an expansion of that through the passage of Proposition 203 in 2010.

As AZ Free News reported, health officials mentioned during Monday’s House Health Committee hearing how recreational marijuana has shadowed fentanyl overdoses and deaths — especially in rising pediatric cases.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

ADHS Announces Voluntary Recall Of Certain Marijuana Products Due To Possible Contamination

ADHS Announces Voluntary Recall Of Certain Marijuana Products Due To Possible Contamination

On Wednesday, the Arizona Department of Health Services announced that some Arizona marijuana establishments and dispensaries are initiating a voluntary recall of specific marijuana products due to possible contamination with Salmonella or Aspergillus.

Brand Name Product Name Batch Number Product Type Implicated Contaminant
Harvest Platinum 14g Pre Pack Indica Flower (Glazed Apricot Gelato) CVGH210406HB Plant, Trim Salmonella
Harvest Platinum 14g Pre Pack Sativa Flower (Tiger Haze) CVGH210406HM (L) Plant, Trim Aspergillus
Modern Flower 3.5g Pre Pack Indica Flower (Orange Acai) CVGH2104210HI Plant, Flower – Cured, Greenhouse Aspergillus sp.
Sol Flower Dispensaries and Establishments Tahiti Lime 0121TILM.33.WT Plant, Flower – Cured Aspergillus sp.
EHF (Elephant Head Farms) HAT Trick #17 Flower 030821F1H12 Plant, Flower – Cured Salmonella
Mohave Cannabis Preroll LAB #454 PR Plant, Preroll, Indoor Salmonella
Tru Infusion Flower Caked Up Cherries 0326R12CUC Plant, Flower – Cured indoor Aspergillus sp.
The Pharm Chemistry #1 (HD 3/24/21) Chemistry #1  1 B15B.R1-10 Plant, Flower – Cured, Greenhouse Aspergillus sp.

The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) is advising purchasers to dispose of the products described in the table above, which were found in laboratory tests to be positive for Salmonella or Aspergillus.

To date, no illnesses have been reported. This announcement is being made out of an abundance of caution. Patients who have purchased potentially contaminated products should not ingest, inhale, or otherwise consume them and should dispose of them. If you have already consumed any of the products and have any of the symptoms described below, please contact your healthcare provider or seek emergency care in the event of an emergency.

The ADHS laboratory auditors determined during routine inspection of an independent third-party laboratory that marijuana samples that tested positive for Salmonella were reported to dispensaries and marijuana establishments as free of contaminants. In addition, marijuana samples that tested positive for Aspergillus were reported to dispensaries and marijuana establishments as free of contaminants.

Once ADHS discovered the positive test results, the establishments involved were notified and took immediate action to work with all distribution and retail partners to remove any potentially impacted products.

Salmonella: Symptoms from ingesting salmonella usually start within 6 hours–6 days after infection and last 4–7 days. Ingestion can happen inadvertently after handling Salmonella-contaminated products. Symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea (that can be bloody)
  • Fever
  • Stomach cramps
  • Some people may also have nausea, vomiting, or a headache.


Aspergillus: Aspergillus can cause allergic reactions or infection, usually in people already sick with something else. Symptoms range from asthma or cold like symptoms to fever and chest pain among many others.  A full list of symptoms can be found on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website: https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/aspergillosis/symptoms.html