Oklahoma cannabis connection could benefit NWA dispensary license holder

by Paul Gatling (pgatling@nwabj.com) 1,029 views 

Erik Danielson, a Fayetteville attorney who is a minority stakeholder in one of Arkansas’ 32 medical marijuana dispensary license holders, has partnered with Slang Worldwide Inc., a global cannabis consumer packaged goods (CPG) company with a robust portfolio of brands.

The partnership is not for the Arkansas dispensary, though. At least not yet.

Slang has partnered with licensed cannabis processor Elite Cultivation LLC to offer its branded cannabis products to patients throughout Oklahoma.

Elite Cultivation is owned by brothers Richard Freeman and Royce Lee Freeman, and other close friends and associates of the Freeman family. That includes Danielson, who is also a 10% owner of Arkansas Medicinal Source Patient Center, which holds a license to open a dispensary in Arkansas.

In Oklahoma, Slang’s products will be manufactured by Elite Cultivation and distributed and sold broadly in medical cannabis dispensaries throughout the state, which legalized cannabis for medical use in 2018 and has seen rapid growth in licensing activity. More than 138,000 registered patients and 1,500 licensed dispensaries have been approved by the state as of June 17. Oklahoma medical cannabis sales topped $23 million in May 2019, based on recent reports from the Oklahoma Tax Commission.

Slang, which is based in Canada, owns several cannabis brands, including O.penVape, the second-best selling U.S. legal cannabis product with $187 million of sales from 2014 through November 2018, according to data from cannabis research firm BDS Analytics. Slang now has a U.S. distribution footprint that includes 2,600 stores in 12 states. The Oklahoma partnership, at least theoretically, could give Danielson a leg up in forging a similar relationship to eventually bring Slang products to the Arkansas market.

Arkansas Medicinal Source Patient Center received approval earlier this year to operate its dispensary at 406 Razorback Drive in Bentonville. The building previously housed a liquor store, Walton Boulevard Wine & Spirits, which Danielson owns. He shut down the business in the spring and a renovation project for the medical marijuana storefront has been ongoing.

“We have received our remodel permit in Bentonville and are in the process of construction,” Danielson said. He did not commit to a date when the dispensary might be open for business, only to say “as soon as possible.”

Arkansans voted to legalize medical marijuana for medicinal purposes in November 2016. Only six dispensaries have opened, due to drawn-out legal conflicts over restrictions on commercial licenses.

The state medical marijuana commission approved 32 dispensary licenses spread out among eight geographic zones of Arkansas. Zone 1 includes Benton, Washington, Carroll and Madison counties. There will be two in Bentonville and two others in Fayetteville.

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