Jefferson County cannabis cultivator to make state’s second medical marijuana crop available Friday

by Wesley Brown ([email protected]) 2,208 views 

Natural State Medicinals Cultivation in Jefferson County will be the second marijuana grower to harvest and make cannabis product available to Arkansans making the trek to Hot Springs this weekend, company officials said late Thursday evening.

Starting Friday (May 31), Natural State will deliver its first cannabis product to Doctor’s Orders RX in Hot Springs. Nine strains of the product manufactured at the startup’s 35,000-square-foot facility in White Hall are now accessible, officials said, but more than 20 different types will be ready for delivery in the coming weeks.

“Our goal is to provide the highest medical-grade cannibals with purity and consistency that our patients can trust,” said Natural State (NSM) Chairman Joseph Courtright. “We are also looking forward to our partnerships with other dispensaries opening soon and putting our product in the hands of people who need and rely on it for a number of medical issues.”

Bold Team LLC in Cotton Plant received approval from ABC’s Enforcement Division in early January 2019 to launch marijuana-growing operations. The South Arkansas cultivator made its first delivery to Doctor’s Order earlier this month from the company’s hybrid greenhouse in Woodruff County that produces nearly two dozen strains of marijuana.

Courtright said NSM’s state-of-the-art cultivation facility just outside Pine Bluff was specifically designed to create a highly controlled environment for growing medical grade cannabis. He said the Jefferson County startup can supply the entire state with high-quality product for Arkansas dispensary owners to process and prescribe varied medicinal cannabis products to treat, suppress or manage the symptoms of a medical condition.

Three weeks ago, Doctor’s Orders RX was the first dispensary to receive clearance from ABC’s enforcement division to sell cannabis products to Arkansans. They opened for business on Friday, May 10, officially becoming Arkansas’ first retailer to sell legal cannabis products to hundreds of Arkansans traveling to Hot Springs with doctor-approved, state-issued medical marijuana cards.

Green Springs Medical dispensary, also located in Hot Springs, was the state’s second medical marijuana retailer to receive approval from state regulators to put cannabis products on the shelf in Garland County’s largest city. It opened two days after Doctor’s Orders on Sunday, May 12.

In addition to those two dispensaries currently in operation, state Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) spokesman Scott Hardin said another inspection is scheduled by ABC agents for next week on June 6.

“Arkansas Natural Products, located in Clinton, will be inspected by ABC Enforcement agents. If agents and ABC leadership determine everything required is in place, the dispensary may open. We anticipate additional inspections will be scheduled over the next week,” said Hardin, media liaison for the state Medical Marijuana Commission.

Since Doctor’s Orders first opened, the Hot Springs storefront has sold a total of 34.11 pounds of medical marijuana through 3,088 transactions as of Tuesday, May 28. Green Springs Medical has sold a total of 59.84 pounds of medical marijuana through 5,653 transactions.

Combined, 93.95 pounds of medical marijuana have been sold through 8,741 transactions at the two Hot Springs dispensaries. The maximum purchase for any patient is 2.5 ounces every 14 days and dispensaries may only process so many customers at a time due to the information required for each transaction.

“A purchase of any individual strain is registered as a transaction,” said Hardin. “If a patient purchases two strains, this registers as two transactions.”

All 32 medical cannabis dispensaries approved by Arkansas regulators in early January to sell medical marijuana have paid the $15,000 licensing fee and posted the necessary $100,000 performance bond to sell cannabis after the ABC’s final inspection. However, several dispensary applications reviewed by Talk Business & Politics indicate they are not expected to open until the second half of 2019 and early 2020.

And although each of the eight quadrants of the state was approved for four retailers apiece, the state’s map of dispensary locations shows most will be clustered near many of the state’s urban centers or county seats.

The MMC board also awarded marijuana-growing licenses more than a year ago to five cultivation startups, located mainly in the agriculture-rich Arkansas Delta region. Besides Bold Team’s cultivation facility in Woodruff County, ABC officials have also given Osage Creek Cultivation in Berryville and Natural State Medicinals in White Hall the go-ahead to begin cannabis-growing operations and growing medical-grade marijuana.

Bold Team conducted the state’s first harvest in April and supplied the two dispensaries in operation with the initial product that is currently being sold. Hardin said Natural State Medicinals just completed a harvest and should soon have product to the two dispensaries. Osage will follow with a harvest early this summer, he said.

Two other Delta-based growers — Natural State Wellness Enterprises and Delta Medical Cannabis Company, both of Jonesboro — have not submitted final plans for their respective growing facilities in Jackson County. Hardin said those two cultivation facilities, located in Newport, remain under construction.

“Each company will contact ABC when facilities are complete and ready for an inspection. We have not been provided a time frame for completion,” said Hardin.

As of May 24, state health officials had certified nearly 12,442 patients who have at least one of the 18 medical conditions that qualify for treatment with medical marijuana, up nearly 700 from nearly three weeks ago when the state’s first cannabis product was sold in Garland County.