Trendsetter to Know: Ann Torrez, Executive Director at Arizona Dispensaries Association

Name: Ann Torrez

Facebook: @AZ.dispensaries

Instagram: @az_dispensaries


LinkedIn: @arizonadispensaries

Age: Rounding up to 60!

Title: executive director, Arizona Dispensaries Association

Married/Single: I married my husband, Pete, at a dive bar in Albuquerque, N.M. in 1988.  I’m not going to say it was love at first sight, but I will say he is the only person who continues to balance supporting my crazy ideas and ensuring I don’t end up self-imploding from those same crazy ideas.

Kids: My beautiful and talented daughter Amanda lives here in the Valley.  She is a strong, creative soul and makes me proud every day. My son, Matt, and his amazing wife, Ashley, live in Vermont. They are both early childhood educators, sharing their passion for the arts with children. They have also blessed me with a granddaughter, and she is spectacular.

City you live in: After living in Tucson for 30 years, I now live in Scottsdale. It has been a big change, but I really enjoy the Valley and am learning to explore the variety of communities that the Valley offers.

A typical day in my life includes… I’m an early riser, so I’m usually awake by 5 a.m. and heading for a daily walk first thing.  Once my day begins, it quickly fills with reading. I’m fascinated by the cannabis plant and the cannabis industry so I can easily spend one or two hours a day researching these topics.  Lately, I have been adding in more business leadership and self-improvement articles and books.  Once I “clock in” for work, I’m balancing my personal to-do list with the needs of the hundreds of members of the Arizona Dispensaries Association.  

Personally, I use Marco Polo to send daily messages to my sisters and parents.  It is a great way to share our lives and keeps us connected.  I usually have a call or text with each of my children as well.  By the end of the day, I love to watch the nightly news and grab dinner with my husband.  We’re guilty of some serious binge tv watching, and probably will need some intervention soon!

I was born… the third of six children with three girls and three boys in the family. And two VERY patient, tired parents. My father was in the Air Force, so we moved around a lot, but Albuquerque was always considered home.

My favorite thing about Arizona… is the people. We’re a state with diverse and ever-changing demographics.  I’m also in love with Arizona’s geography. We’re truly fortunate to be able to lay by the pool one day and the next day drive a few hours to throw on a sweater and curl up by a cozy fireplace.  

I’m listening to… Well, I’m probably going to get teased for this truthful answer. When I write, I enjoy meditative music and sounds. Currently I’m listening to Spotify’s 7.83 Hz Boost Positive Energy Meditation.

My family… is a bit crazy. My mom and dad met and married in the early 1960s. They’re from different religious and cultural backgrounds. My mom is Mexican American Catholic and my dad is Eastern European American Jew. As children we learned at a very early age that there simply is no place for racism or prejudice based upon differences. I don’t know how they have managed to stay true to their heritage and beliefs, but they have! My husband’s family is vibrant and loving. When we’re together it is usually loud and filled with laughter.

If I could have dinner with anyone, it would be… with one of my favorite authors, Paulo Coelho. I would love to know how his heart wrenching and inspirational words came to form so many beautiful novels. I could re-read By The River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept a thousand times and it wouldn’t be enough.

One thing I cannot live without… is my girlfriends. I have several who I have known for more than 40 years. They ground me.  They understand all my weaknesses and flaws and love me despite them.

When I was younger, I wanted to be… a journalist or a writer.  Maybe there is still time?

I’m inspired by… women leaders.  Don’t get me wrong – there are some tremendous male leaders, but women who stick their neck out seem to have more to lose. Watching my mother battle prejudice and stereotypes has shown me how challenging it can be for women to speak their truth. Strong women leaders challenge how I see myself and challenge what I believe are my possibilities.

The one person who motivates me is… I have a few life and work mentors. I’m lucky that I can pick up the phone and reach out for inspiration when I need it.

If I could change anything in the world, it would be… the ability to protect every child.  I would protect them from hunger, pain and loneliness. I would protect them from bullying and fear. I would create an environment where each child would know they are valued so that as they became adults, they would only know a sense of peace, wellbeing and strength.   

The perfect day would be… on a beach with my toes in the water and butt in the sand with my loved ones nearby… so that they could refill my margarita.

My first job was… outside of babysitting and the obligatory stint at a fast-food restaurant, my first job was as a sales representative for a Top 20 radio station. It was not my favorite job and I quickly moved into technology sales at a pager company and then into the cellular industry.

My favorite escape… I love to go to the movies, and I really love to go alone.  I like to pick obscure or classic movies. Me, my mind and buttered popcorn love this special escape time!

My life… is blessed. If you hear me complain, please feel free to set me straight!

I’m currently working on… Shhh. Don’t tell, but I’m working on a book. It’s about my experiences in the cannabis industry – and these experiences are a bit wild. 

Always… remember that there are two sides to every story.

Never… forget to say, “I love you.” You never know when that last moment will be.

Favorite Quote… My favorite quote is by one of my dear friends, Leanne. She listens to me gripe and complain and always ends our conversation with “Sometimes you just have to suck it up, Buttercup.”  She isn’t wrong.

Biggest Dream… is to see my children and my grandchildren fulfill their dreams.

My Pet Peeve(s)… My biggest pet peeve is inconsiderate human behavior.   

Bio-on yourself/company: Ann Torrez is the executive director of the Arizona Dispensaries Association (ADA), the voice of Arizona’s cannabis industry. ADA’s mission is to promote and advocate for a safe, consumer-focused cannabis industry in Arizona through regulatory compliance, political action, advocacy, education, professionalism, and philanthropy.

Ann’s extensive experience in the cannabis industry spans nearly a decade. Her primary role with the ADA is to provide guidance to members using the Association’s relationship with regulatory agencies and the legislative body to promote safe cannabis use and grow the industry. She collaborates with a volunteer board of license holders who function as the voice of the regulated industry. 

Previously, she supported businesses in receivership where her operational and compliance background provided expertise to protect and grow the assets of cannabis businesses in litigation. Ann has developed Policy and Procedures, Standard Operating Procedures, Cost Modeling, and Branding for cannabis edibles, production, and cultivation businesses. Additionally, she has assisted in the development of license applications working in more than fifteen states on dozens of application processes.

Prior to cannabis, Ann served as a key fundraiser for the American Diabetes Association of Southern Arizona and The Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson. In her early career, she worked to launch AT&T Wireless in Arizona and US West retail and wholesale divisions.  

Ann is a fervent supporter and activist in both local and national cannabis industry groups. Ann graduated from the University of New Mexico, Robert Anderson School of Management with a degree in marketing and a minor in child psychology. 

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