State officials approve opening of Fort Smith medical marijuana dispensary

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 1,394 views 

Fort Cannabis, the licensed medical marijuana dispensary in Fort Smith, was on Friday (Dec. 13) approved to open for business. Jeff Scholtes, the license owner for the dispensary, said officials were at the store Friday for the inspection. Scholtes owns the dispensary with Sheri Neely.

Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control issued an approval letter to the company late Friday following a review of the inspection report, said Scott Hardin, communications director for the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration. He noted it is up to the owner when it will open.

“I think it went really well. When are we opening? That is the magic question, isn’t it? Hopefully, very soon,” Scholtes said.

The dispensary cannot purchase product from the licensed growers in the state until it has all the official paperwork from the state. Scholtes said once that paperwork is in hand, it should only take a few days to have products in the store and to be open for business.

Fort Cannabis is one of four dispensaries in Zone 4, Hardin said. Located at 3904 Ayers Road, it will be the only dispensary in Fort Smith. Each of the state’s eight zones has four licensed dispensaries for a total of 32. Each of the 32 licensed dispensaries must pass inspection prior to opening for business.

“The dispensary’s owners let us (ABC) know when they are ready for the required, final inspection. The first Zone 4 dispensary to request inspection was 420 Dispensary (Russellville). It was inspected earlier this week. Today, we issued 420 a letter providing formal approval to open for business. The opening date will be determined by owners,” Hardin said Friday.

420 was the 14th dispensary to receive approval to open. If the inspection passes, Fort Cannabis will be the 15th, he said. Jordan Mooney will is the general manager for Fort Cannabis.

According to the most recent sales report for medical marijuana, patients in Arkansas have spent $23.3 million on medical marijuana with 3,433 pounds purchased since the first dispensary, Green Springs Medical in Hot Springs, opened May 10.

The state’s voters passed Amendment 98 in November 2016. It allowed for medical marijuana for sufferers of cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Tourette’s syndrome, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, post-traumatic stress disorder, severe arthritis, fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s disease, and certain conditions involving pain, nausea and seizures.

Two legislative sessions and two years of regulatory wrangling later, Arkansas finally has dispensaries and cultivators in operation. The first dispensary, Doctor’s Orders RX in Hot Springs, opened its doors on May 10.