Medical marijuana commission approves new licenses for cultivators, dispensaries

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,653 views 

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission released additional cultivation and dispensary licenses on Tuesday (June 30).

In a 3-2 vote, the commission released the two remaining cultivation licenses. The state now has eight cultivators approved for business, but just three are operational. It wasn’t until earlier this month that the sixth applicant received a license following a long legal battle.

Among the two cultivation licenses approved Tuesday, River Valley Relief will be located in Sebastian County and New Day Cultivation will be located in Garland County.

Commissioners Kevin Russell and Travis Story voted against releasing the cultivation licenses after hearing from at least one lawmaker that there wasn’t an issue with supply.

Sen. Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs, attended the meeting via conference call, while the following lawmakers attended in person: Sen. Bill Sample, R-Hot Springs, Sen. Linda Chesterfield, D-Little Rock, and Sen. Alan Clark, R-Lonsdale.

Hester said he had not heard from any medical marijuana users that there was an issue with supply and pricing. However, Sample, Chesterfield, and Clark said they knew of patients struggling to afford the medicine as well as dispensary owners who are having issues with supply.

In another motion that passed on a 4-1 vote, the commission released four additional dispensary licenses to the following counties: Washington, Fulton, Mississippi, and Pulaski.

A commission spokesperson confirmed that the following dispensaries will be located within the counties:

  • Natural Root Wellness in Fayetteville
  • Green Cross Cannabis in Highland
  • MissCo Cannabis Dispensary in Osceola
  • Native Green Wellness in Little Rock

Applicants should expect intent letters for awarding of licenses to be mailed by the end of the week. There are three remaining dispensary licenses available, but those applications do not expire until January 2021.

Arkansas has three cultivation facilities and 22 dispensaries in operation as of June 30, 2020.

According to the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, Arkansans have spent more than $100 million on nearly 16,000 pounds of medical marijuana since the first dispensary opened in May 2019.

A June 2020 Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College Poll found that 67.5% of Arkansans support medical marijuana compared to 20.5% who oppose. That level of support far exceeds the 53% of voters who approved the measure in November 2016.

Among voters in the survey who support medical marijuana, 23.5% approved of increasing the number of cultivators and dispensaries, 19% approved legalizing recreational marijuana, and 46.5% approved of both.

Editor’s note: KATV senior political reporter Marine Glisovic contributed to this report. KATV, a Little Rock-based television station, is a content partner with Talk Business & Politics.

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