SHOW LOW — Marijuana seed seller Michael Moss didn’t close his business because of pressure from U.S. postal inspectors but rather allegedly because of pressure from the Arizona Dispensaries Association (ADA), he said in an online video meeting.
He said it is because he is competition in their rapidly growing market.
Shortly before shutting down his marijuana seed business (MossMseeds that he started in 2016), Moss said he was in a Zoom meeting with members of the ADA. He said about 50 people attended the online video meeting.
Samuel Richard, ADA executive director, denies even knowing Moss let alone that his organization is putting any pressure on him.
“It doesn’t even sound like something that we would ever talk about in an association meeting,” Richard said.
Richard said the meeting was more likely one held by the Arizona Department of Health Services and not an official association meeting.
“We have a pretty good name recognition within the industry. Sometimes people confuse our meetings with meetings that the Department of Health has themselves. I do remember when the first draft of adult-use regulation came out, the Department of Health had a series of two or three Q-and-A sessions. On one of those calls there was a question of ‘Can we sell seeds and clones?’ The answer was something to the effect of ‘absolutely as long as it is done in the environment of a dispensary,’ ” said Richard.
Moss took direct aim at the members of the Arizona Dispensaries Association.
“They are the ones breaking the law by shipping (marijuana) seeds over the state lines,” Moss said. “But they are allowed to do that. For whatever reason they are exempt. That’s what they’re coming after me for essentially, but they are allowed to.”
Richard said each dispensary or growing operation is responsible to obtain seeds on its own, and seeds are not bought or distributed by the ADA. Each must also adhere to strict DHS guidelines when it comes to obtaining seeds for sale or planting, according to Richard.
“As soon as seeds become plants, there is documentation, processes and policies that need to be followed. He shipped nationwide. There is no sleight of hand going on with our members and operators. They operate above board and we embrace a fully regulated ecosystem. That is why we worked so hard to bring it to all Arizonans over the age of 21,” Richard said.
Richard added that Moss needs to work under the license of an existing dispensary.
Moss said marijuana growers, seed and soil experts and even people who were interested in growing cannabis were asking questions during the Zoom meeting.
“I said I’ve been doing this for a little while. I’ve got my business license. I am registered in the state here. I even have an agricultural seed handler and seed vendors licenses. Now all of the sudden, with Prop 207, we can’t continue what we are doing unless we belong to the Arizona Dispensaries Association,” Moss said.
On the Zoom call, Moss claimed that ADA representatives allegedly said if he continues selling marijuana seeds police will raid his operation.
Moss explained that he was told that law enforcement personnel watch social media to find people growing marijuana. While it is now legal to possess recreational marijuana in Arizona, possession of more than an ounce is still outlawed.
Moss added that the harvesting of a single plant can easily net 2 or more ounces of the product.
“The cops are watching everybody. Unless you’re a dispensary or a cop, you’re not going to make money on this. The DUI level (driving under the influence) — many people are going to get pulled over. If you grow your own plants — you can only grow up to an ounce. You can easily get 2.5 ounces off of that plant. They are already setting you up. Once you harvest, you are over your legal amount,” Moss said.
The power and control that the Arizona Dispensaries Association has over adult-use marijuana remains untouchable, according to Moss.
“It’s all just a money-making racket and it is against the little guys,” said Moss.
He said many of the big players in the dispensary business are from Canada.
“We are sending our money to Canadian banks. Yet I’m a guy who has lived here in Arizona and trying to make a little something. This is not the land of opportunity anymore. If you have money you can stomp on the little guy. Unless we have millions of dollars, we’re going to be shutdown. I was advised that I would be raided. It’s all about money. It’s all about greed. It’s not about patient care. They have taken the medical marijuana part of it out. It’s greed,” Moss said.
Moss added that most of the dispensaries are owned by large corporations, not individuals, and they are “pushing the little guys out who were already here.”
“How many dispensaries do we have that are actually from Arizona? How many came from out of the state? It’s just not right. Especially the ones from Canada. I’m just trying to make a living,” Moss said, adding that he invested his retirement funds in his business, which is now closed.
“I invested my entire IRA in this because it is something that I believe in. I’m here to help people. All of the sudden I have big dispensaries telling me that I can’t do it anymore. They are ratting me out to the federal government. They don’t like what I’m doing here,” Moss said.
Moss said he hopes to partner with one of the dispensaries because he cannot afford the millions of dollars necessary to establish his own dispensary. The Arizona Dispensaries Association charges members $12,500 for an annual membership, according to the ADA website, and the state of Arizona requires millions for permits and financial assurances.
When Arizona voters approved Prop 207 and legalized recreational marijuana last year, one of the goals was to destroy illegal marijuana sales. Instead, according to Moss, the power and control given to the dispensaries will likely fuel a new marijuana black market. Moss said that underground dealers can sell their products cheaper.
“Since we’ve seen the prices go up, you’re going to see a lot more underground people. I am here to support your local drug dealer. If I know somebody who is growing in their house — I’m supporting it. I’m not supporting big corporations trying to get rich off of me anymore. They have created an underground market,” Moss said.
Moss said it would cost him $14 million to work with the Arizona Dispensaries Association. He said it takes $7 million down and another $7 million that has to be paid within five years.
Those figures have not been validated by state or ADA statements.
“It’s a $14 million club, and if you don’t belong to their club you can’t operate in the state. They are the ones who are breaking all the rules. They’re just getting rich. They’re not out to help people,” Moss said. “Right now I am completely shut down. I’m not done because this is something that I believe in. We are looking for an attorney to take on the big guys. We were doing this long before they came in.”