Regulators on Thursday approved a rule change allowing issuance of two remaining medical marijuana dispensary licenses permitted under the Arkansas Constitution. The state will have a total of 40 dispensaries, reports Arkansas Online.
The change issues the licenses to companies that previously applied for them and are next in line based on scores. It will go before the Arkansas Legislative Council in February. The licenses will likely be issued in March, according to Medical Marijuana Commission spokesman Scott Hardin.
Arkansas voters approved the constitutional amendment legalizing cannabis for medical use in the state in 2016. These are last two licenses. Their distribution completes the medical marijuana program.
Voters passed an amendment that would allow 40 dispensaries and 8 growers to do business in the state, reports THV11.
Licenses Will Be For Southwestern Arkansas
The panel In January 2019 issued 32 dispensary licenses spread evenly across eight geographic zones. It has granted six more since then.
Then in July, the commission decided it would issue the remaining two licenses. Members noted at the time that there were fewer dispensaries in the southwestern portion of the state relative to the number of patients in that region.
One of the licenses will be in Zone 6, which covers Scott, Polk, Montgomery, Garland, Perry, Saline, Hot Spring and Grant counties. The other will be in Zone 8, which includes Howard, Sevier, Little River, Hempstead, Miller, Nevada, Lafayette, Columbia, Union, Ouachita, Calhoun, Clark and Dallas counties.
The Zone 6 license is awarded to Green Remedies Group, which plans to open a dispensary in Garland County.
The Zone 8 license will go to T&C Management, which plans to open a dispensary in Texarkana.
Nicole Gillum with Capitol Advisors Group, which represents T&C Management, wrote to the commission Wednesday in support of the proposed rule change. Gollum said it best serves patients and taxpayers.
“Implementing this rule change is the best option for expanding access to healthcare in those areas as quickly and efficiently as possible,” Gollum wrote. “The proposed rule also ensures that the remaining licenses will go to qualified applications, who have already demonstrated their merit through an independent scoring process.”
The two companies are next in line to receive a license based on scoring by PCG. That’s the consulting company hired by the commission.
The commission did not discuss the rule change Thursday before the unanimous vote.
“Things Are Going Well”
There were 79,810 active medical marijuana patient cards in the state as of Thursday, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.
Of the 38 licensed dispensaries, 37 are open so far. The other will open by early February, according to Scott Hardin, spokesperson for the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission.
Since the first dispensary opened in 2019, Arkansans have spent more than $500 million on medical marijuana. Last year was, by far, the biggest year of sales yet with more than $264 million of product sold.
“Now that we are a couple years in and we can actually look at it and see how it’s doing, things are going well,” said Hardin.