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Law Arkansas


Well-Known Member
Arkansas: Emergency Medical Marijuana Rules to Take Effect May 8

The Arkansas Legislative Council leadership set in motion the key players in the state's new medical marijuana law from seed to sale.

The council's approval of emergency rules Wednesday allowed them go into effect Monday at noon as required by the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment of 2016.

"Everybody knows what the rulebook is, how the game is going to be played," said State Rep. Doug House, R-North Little Rock, who crafted the legislation.

Hopeful cultivation facility and dispensary owners are obtaining land, equipment and employment options, while doctors consider patient certification and pharmacists question how to dose the drug.

"There are literally thousands of people in the background now that are all preparing for this big seismic change in Arkansas culture," House said.

According to the rules, the Medical Marijuana Commission shall issue at least four but no more than eight cultivation facility licenses and at least 20 but no more than 40 dispensary licenses. They will be based on merit.

For dispensaries, licenses will be assigned to eight geographic zones with a limit of four per county.

For both dispensaries and cultivation facilities, Arkansans who have lived in the state for at least seven years must hold 60 percent of ownership.

"It's not a matter of interstate commerce and that's an important distinction," House said. "That does not mean that outside interests cannot participate through investment. But if you're going to be the ones to get the license and control the facility, you're going to be subject to Arkansas law."

No individual can have interest in more than one cultivation facility and dispensary.

Among their many tasks, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division and health department will work together to implement an inventory tracking system for the products.

"It's been a lot of hard work to try to create a mini Food and Drug Administration from the ground up," House said.

As the state moves forward, Rep. House is most worried about the implementation of testing and laboratory rules that fall under the health department.

"I hope our standards are not such that no product that people produce will pass the standard," he said.

If so, the rules of the game could change.

"It's always going to be a work in progress," House said. "You don't just get it right and that's the end of it. I mean, even speed limits on highways change from time to time."

The application period for cultivation facilities and dispensaries should open July 1.

The legislative council will review the permanent medical marijuana rules, duplicates of the emergency rules, May 19, when they should go into effect.

Arkansas, really? They weren't even on my radar. Who knew. But, although I suspect that there are many representatives in this state opposed to legalization of MJ in any manner, at least these folks are respecting the will of the electorate who approved a constitutional amendment to provide medical MJ for 17 conditions. This is unlike FL where the legislature is working actively against the expressed will of the people through a direct democratic vote. Damn, I wish I was a billionaire. I would have soooooo much fun hiring a 100 lawyers to sue state governments like FL. LOL
Medical marijuana brings new hopes, new risks to Arkansas

The changes medical marijuana brings to Arkansas will likely be less widespread than advocates hope or opponents fear, at least at first, recent history and research suggest.

The voter-approved constitutional amendment allowing medical marijuana use will soon fall into place. The state plans to start taking license applications for shops to distribute marijuana products and cultivation facilities in July. The people who qualify to use and possess those products could be able to apply for the necessary state cards even sooner.

The amendment legalizes marijuana use in Arkansas for the first time in almost a century, though it's still against federal law. Supporters say the drug will mean comfort instead of misery and potentially less risk than other medications for some patients.

"It truly felt like a miracle," Fayetteville resident Emily Williams said last fall, describing marijuana's immediate soothing effect on her chemotherapy-induced pain and relentless nausea other medicines failed to alleviate.

But how many patients will want it, how many doctors will allow it and how many marijuana businesses will succeed remain open questions. Experts worry about unintended side effects of legalization, such as lessening the oversight of doctors over their patients' medications, or want more study into the drug.

"The situation's looking a little rough," said Storm Nolan, founder of the Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association, pointing to the inability of marijuana businesses to get many bank loans and other issues. "There are a lot of unknowns, and I know that's scaring away a good number of people." (cont)
Arkansas nears medical marijuana license deadline

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas will soon begin taking applications from those who hope to grow and dispense medical marijuana, though the state's strong religious heritage and restrictions imposed by the Legislature will limit where greenhouses and distributors can operate.

Voters last November made Arkansas the first Bible Belt state to legalize medical marijuana, clearing its use by people with certain medical conditions. While setting up rules for licensing, legislators said growers must be at least 3,000 feet from churches, schools or daycares, while dispensaries must be 1,500 feet away. The limits will make it tough for some towns and small cities to host marijuana operations.

"Some cities are reviewing where churches, schools and daycare centers might preclude the location of cultivation facilities and dispensaries," said Don Zimmerman, executive director of the Arkansas Municipal League.

Arkansas had 6,697 congregations, synagogues and Muslim houses of worship in 2010, according to a study by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies. Zimmerman said many towns have so many churches that it could be difficult to site a greenhouse or dispensary close to where people live — "especially in small, compact cities."

For example, the survey showed 94 congregations in Malvern, a town of 11,000 that covers 9 square miles. Add daycares and schools and the number of potential sites is limited further.

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission is set to begin accepting applications for cultivation and dispensary licenses for on July 1. Applications will be accepted for 90 days, and then officials will score and process them before awarding licenses based on merit. The cultivation license application fee is $15,000, and a $100,000 fee is required from an applicant who has been selected to receive a license.

The panel expects to issue five cultivation licenses initially, with as many as eight eventually approved.

Applications for a dispensary license must include a $7,500 fee. Up to 32 dispensary licenses will be awarded and distributed within eight geographic zones to assure that the facilities are available equally throughout Arkansas.

Already, the state Board of Health has approved rules governing the issuance of marijuana-user registration cards and drug testing and labeling. Qualifying conditions for a medical-marijuana card include cancer, severe arthritis and Crohn's disease, along with chronic conditions that cause symptoms such as "intractable pain," severe nausea or seizures.

Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration spokesman Jake Bleed says there's no current estimate of the number of license applications that could potentially be filed.

"However, medical marijuana has always drawn significant interest from Arkansans, and we are preparing to process a large number of applications," Bleed said. The issue had been on the ballot previously, following a number of earlier attempts to put the issue before voters.

AR-Canna, run by president and CEO Brian Faught, wants to build a number of greenhouses on 5 acres near Fayetteville. Faught said he wants to hire 35-40 people to start and eventually have 80 to 90 people working.

"Fayetteville was the only choice for me besides central Arkansas because they have the population to draw from for a labor pool," he said. Under the state's guidelines, workers must be at least 21 and registered as a marijuana cultivator by the state. Those convicted of certain felonies are not eligible to apply.

"This isn't some backwoods, little industry," Faught said. "It's going to be run by very successful business people."

Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association founder Storm Nolan and his brother are also pursuing a cultivation facility license and hope the industry could be an economic boon to his hometown of Fort Smith. Nolan says he will probably be able to employ 20-30 people if he is able to open a facility.

Nolan says his mother died after an addiction to opioids prescribed for her chronic pain, and that he and his brother wish she could've had another option for her treatment.

"We thought if there was any other solution that wasn't as addictive, we would have taken it," Nolan said. "The benefits for people suffering cannot come soon enough."
Medical Marijuana Means Losing Your Second Amendment Right in Arkansas

our right to bear arms in Arkansas could be taken away if you apply for a medical marijuana card. According to the Arkansas Department of Health, you can't have both a medical marijuana card and legally own a gun because pot is still illegal on the federal level.

Robert Reed, a Navy Veteran who served his country for 16 year, suffers PTSD along medical conditions which medical marijuana would help.

Reed said, "I will not apply for a med license, and risk my livelihood and my safety."

The Arkansas Department of Health said a question they get all the time is whether or not you can own a gun and possess a medical marijuana ID card. Since prescription pot is a Schedule 1 controlled substance, under federal law, you can't own a gun legally. And federal law supersedes state law.

"If they're a user of marijuana, although legal in Arkansas, it's still illegal on the federal level," explained Robert Brech with Arkansas Department of Health. "It's very clear you cannot be a marijuana user, and pass that check."

Reed, and other veterans who fought for Constitutional rights, will not apply for their medical marijuana cards due to putting the freedom they fought for at risk.

"You've got a law that outlaws the people that defended your right to make a law that puts me in jail," said Reed.

"You won't be denied the medical marijuana card. There's actually a provision in the Constitutional amendment that you can't be denied a license. So they may continue to give a conceal carry license to someone. It's really a problem at the federal level, not the state level," explained Brech.

"How can I have health and freedom by giving up a right? I can't," said Reed

I have problems with this on a number of levels. 2nd Amendment = enumerated individual right under the constitution. MJ Prohibition = legislative law and admin action by the DEA. The later should not, and cannot be allowed, to abridge the former.

2nd Amendment rights and MMJ registration will end up in SCOTUS someday, just watch.
Arkansas AG again rejects marijuana legalization ballot attempt

By The Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas’ attorney general’s office has rejected language proposed for a 2018 ballot issue, saying the attempt to legalize marijuana is too ambiguous to make sense.

In a letter dated Friday but released Monday, the attorney general’s office expressed concerns about a provision that allowed a grower to have 25 mature plants and 25 non-mature plants. If one of the 25 non-mature plants matures, giving a grower 26 mature plants, what should happen next?

Related stories
The office also said it was not clear how many individuals or businesses could be involved in marijuana cultivation in each county.

The ballot issue was submitted by Mary Berry of Summit, who has seen previous proposals denied.

Arkansas Will Start Licensing Medical Marijuana Growers This Week

Arkansas will start licensing medical marijuana growers this week, starting Tuesday.

The state of Arkansas passed comprehensive medical cannabis legalization in 2016, after voters approved Amendment 98. Over the past year, the state has been rolling out its regulatory policy and reviewing applications from prospective growers and retailers. Already, the Arkansas Department of Health has approved 4,116 applications for patients with qualifying conditions. With registered patients ready, Arkansas will start licensing medical marijuana growers this week. But unusual legal hurdles could pose challenges for the state’s young medical cannabis program.

Arkansas Will Start Licensing Medical Marijuana Growers This Week
Today, the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission is slated to announce the winners of the first round of applications to grow cannabis. According to reports, the state has approved applications for five growing centers. These groups will be the first to legally grow medical cannabis in Arkansas.

After the initial approval of growing operations, the commission will begin reviewing applications for retailers. By May, Arkansas officials expect to have approved over 30 dispensaries, said a spokesperson for the state Department of Finance and Administration.

All of this means that by early summer, qualifying patients will finally be able to legally purchase medical marijuana in Arkansas. After a year of debates about implementing the program, growers and retailers are now jockeying for position. But not everyone can make the cut, leading to concerns that rejected applicants could sue the state over its decision.

Arkansas Expects Legal Challenges From Rejected Growers
The five growers the state will approve tomorrow represent just a fraction of the applications submitted to the state. According the Arkansas medical marijuana commissioners, who reviewed 95 applications for growing centers, some applicants just didn’t make the cut.

But applying for a permit to grow medical cannabis isn’t cheap, and growers whose applications did not pass muster are looking for a refund. Some are even preparing to sue the state over its decision.

Just submitting an application to become an approved grower costs $15,000 dollars. Growers then have to fork over an extra $100,000 if the Commission accepts their application.

Yet those aren’t the only costs. Given the complexity and competitiveness of the application process, many applicants hired attorneys and consultants for help.

All told, competitive bidders for grow operations spent between $150,000 and $200,000, according to industry insiders. These costs represent a significant investment. No wonder losing applicants are preparing to file legal challenges against the commission’s decision.

This type of litigious response is more common than many may think. But Arkansas has thrown prospective growers and their lawyers a curveball.

In a prior court ruling, the Arkansas Supreme Court reaffirmed the constitutional principle of sovereign immunity. And that means the state and its agencies can’t be sued in court.

Some appeals from rejected applicants have already been thrown out, though it’s unclear whether these are linked to the precedent. However, the state still expects some applicants to appeal. Their argument is that the state has not reviewed their application fairly.

Despite Legal Concerns, Arkansas Will Start Licensing Medical Marijuana Growers This Week
While some growers may feel frustrated over the competitive application process, many argue the state’s rules are better for patients. Whatever the Arkansas medical marijuana commission decides, patients can expect.

Ultimately, the state’s concern is ensuring growers and dispensaries have enough high quality, affordable medical cannabis available.

Furthermore, applicants who withdrew early or failed to meet minimum requirements received a full refund. Applicants who scored outside the top five will receive a refund of half their application cost.

Arkansas names 5 companies picked to grow medical marijuana

The state received 95 applications for cultivation facilities

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas took the first step Tuesday toward launching its medical marijuana program, as state regulators named the five businesses they intend to license to grow the drug.

The state Medical Marijuana Commission announced the top applications for cultivation facilities, which will grow and provide cannabis for dispensaries to sell under a 2016 voter-approved measure. The panel is expected later this year to license up to 32 dispensaries to sell the drug.

The companies have seven days to pay a $100,000 licensing fee and post a $500,000 performance bond in order to receive the licenses.

Related stories
The companies are Natural State Medicinals Cultivation in Jefferson County, Bold Team LLC in Woodruff County, Natural State Wellness Enterprises in Jefferson or Jackson County, Osage Creek Cultivation in Carroll County and Delta Medical Cannabis Company Inc. in Jackson County.

Natural State Wellness Enterprises’ investors include former Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, who said the company hopes to decide in the next 24 to 36 hours in which county to locate. The company had two applications among the top five, but is prohibited from opening more than one facility.

“We appreciate that it is a public trust that has been placed upon our company to produce quality, safe, and legal medicine to Arkansas patients,” said McDaniel, who is also an attorney and lobbyist for the company. “We will make a location decision shortly and will promptly begin construction.”

Delta Medical Cannabis has a property under contract in Newport, about 89 miles northeast of Little Rock, and will likely have its facility up and running by the end of this year or early 2019.

“We’re building a state of the art facility from the ground up,” said Donald Parker, an owner and attorney of the company.

Related: Arkansas buffer zones will make medical marijuana licensing a tricky business

The state received 95 applications for cultivation facilities. The applications were scored by each of the five commissioners on several factors, including business experience, qualifications and finances. The commission will meet March 14 to formally award licenses to companies that complied with the requirements.

The state has approved more than 4,100 applications for patients to use medical marijuana, and will issue registry cards about a month before the drug is expected to be available legally.

The licenses were announced the same day dozens of medical marijuana supporters appeared at the state Capitol to urge lawmakers to make changes to the medical marijuana program next year. The proposals include adding qualifying medical conditions, ending a 4 percent tax on medical marijuana sales and allowing students approved to use medical marijuana to have access to non-smokeable forms of cannabis on school grounds.

“We wanted everyone to really understand what the real story is. It’s not about five businessmen that are going to make a lot of money,” Corey Hunt with the Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association, said. “It’s about these patients here who fought years and years and years.”
And the fighting at the trough continues....as always. sigh

First challenges filed over Arkansas medical marijuana licenses

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas regulators are receiving a flurry of challenges to the licensing of the state’s first medical marijuana growers.

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission announced last month the five companies that scored high enough to receive a license to grow medical marijuana. The cultivation licenses are expected to officially be issued at Wednesday’s commission meeting.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that an unsuccessful applicant filed a letter of protest with the commission Monday, requesting it refrain from issuing the licenses because the scoring process was flawed.

Related stories
The Department of Finance and Administration also says it’s reviewing the tax status of those associated with the winning applicants amid delinquency concerns.

David Couch is the attorney who drafted the constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana. He says industry experts expect more challenges in coming days.
Its funny reading this thread...its like an old comedy routine about a boxer..."he's down...no, he's up...oh no, he's down again...." etc. LOL

Arkansas judge blocks state from licensing medical cannabis growers

An Arkansas judge has temporarily blocked regulator from issuing licenses to five companies to grow medical marijuana in response to complaints about the state’s process for reviewing applications for the facilities.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen on Wednesday issued a temporary restraining order against the state, which had planned to formally issue cultivation licenses later in the day.

Griffen scheduled a hearing Friday on a request for a preliminary injunction against the state.

The judge issued the order in response to a lawsuit filed by Naturalis Health, a Little Rock company that was not among the top five applicants.

The state’s Medical Marijuana Commission last month chose the five companies it intended to award licenses for cultivation facilities.

All five firms paid the licensing fees and posted performance bonds by March 9.
Well, he's back down on the mat now.

Arkansas Judge Scraps Medical Marijuana Licensing Process

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas judge on Wednesday struck down the state’s decision to issue its first licenses to grow medical marijuana, ruling that the process for awarding the permits and the rankings of applicants were unconstitutional.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen granted a preliminary injunction preventing the state Medical Marijuana Commission from awarding cultivation licenses. Griffen last week issued a restraining order preventing the state from awarding licenses to five companies.

Arkansas Judge Blocks State From Licensing Medical Marijuana Growers

Griffen ruled that the process for awarding the licenses violated a state constitutional amendment voters approved in 2016 legalizing marijuana for patients with certain conditions. He ruled the commission’s rankings of the 95 applicants for the cultivation licenses were null and void. Griffen sided with an unsuccessful applicant that had sued the state over claims the process for awarding the licenses was flawed.

In his ruling, Griffen said he “takes no joy” in blocking the state from issuing the licenses.

“The prospect that Arkansans must now endure more delay before gaining much needed access to locally grown medical marijuana should be unpleasant to anyone concerned about providing relief to people who suffer from serious illnesses,” Griffen wrote.

The attorney general’s office did not have an immediate comment on Griffen’s ruling.

NJ Court: Medical Cannabis Benefits ‘Abundant and Glaringly Apparent’

Griffen said the process for awarding the licenses was compromised by potential conflicts of interest by commissioners who scored the applications, including one whose law firm represents the owners of one of facilities that was going to receive a license in non-marijuana related matters. Another commissioner is a physician who routinely refers patients to the medical practice of another doctor who is a part owner of a cultivation facility.

The state, however, has said that the applications scored by the commissioners were redacted and did not include any identifying information about the applicants.

Griffen said the state also failed to verify applicants’ assertions that the primary entrance for their proposed facilities would be at least 3,000 feet from school, churches and daycare centers, the distance required by the medical marijuana amendment. He also ruled the commission violated its own rules by failing to evaluate whether people connected with the applications have been affiliated with entities that have had their corporate status revoked for not paying franchise taxes.

Naturalis Health LLC, the applicant that sued over the process, has said it wants an independent evaluator to re-score the applications for the cultivation facilities.

“We’re very grateful for the judge’s decision and look forward to what comes next,” Jay Bequette, an attorney for Naturalis, said.
Well, maybe he's getting back up...no, he's down...no, he's getting back up...no, he's....oh, who cares LOL

They should just tie their left hands together, give them knives, and have a Texas Cage Match...winner takes all. LOL

Arkansas Appeals Judge’s Order Halting Marijuana Grow Licenses

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas’ attorney general said Friday she’s appealing a judge’s decision to prevent the state from issuing its first licenses to grow medical marijuana after ruling the process for permitting the facilities was unconstitutional.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge filed notice that she’s appealing Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen’s decision halting the licensing process to the state Supreme Court. Griffen on Wednesday ruled the state’s licensing process for the cultivation facilities violated the 2016 voter-approved state constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana.

“The Attorney General disagrees with the circuit court and has appealed the ruling to the Arkansas Supreme Court,” Nicole Waugh, a spokeswoman for Rutledge, said in an email. The two-page notice of appeal did not elaborate on Rutledge’s reasons for challenging Griffen’s ruling.

Griffen sided with an unsuccessful applicant who had argued the process for licensing the cultivation facilities was flawed. Griffen potential conflicts of interest by two members of the commission and said the state did not evaluate whether applicants complied with regulations such as the required distance from schools, churches and daycares. Griffen voided the Medical Marijuana Commission’s ranking of the 95 applicants for the licenses.

An attorney for Naturalis Health LLC, the applicant that sued over the licensing, declined to comment on the appeal.
Arkansas Supreme Court to Review Hold on Cannabis Growers’ Licenses

Arkansas legalized medical marijuana in 2016, but not much has happened since then. Though the state has issued over 5,000 medical marijuana licenses, authorities have been slow to approve dispensaries and growers. In February, the state finally issued 5 marijuana grower licenses but was soon after taken to court by a failed applicant. The Arkansas Supreme Court is now reviewing the case that’s stopping cannabis growers from moving forward.

The State Issued Few Marijuana Grow Licenses
The licensing process was expensive, not to mention competitive. To even be in the running, potential Arkansas growers paid the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission $15,000 per application. In total, 95 businesses submitted applications, but only 5 received state approval. These 5 had to pay $100,000 on top of the application fee to proceed with the process.

Not everyone was pleased with Commission’s final decisions. Naturalis Health LLC, whose application the commission rejected, took the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission to court. Judge Wendell Griffen presided over the case and ruled in Naturalis Health’s favor.

When Judge Griffen issued an injunction against the five licensed businesses, the entire licensing program came to a halt. The judge’s decision rendered the licenses “null and void,” at least for the time being,

Was Arkansas’ Review Process Unconstitutional?
Judge Wendell ruled that it was. He explained that the review process “created the appearance of bias in violation of due process of law.”

The Judge took issue with several aspects of this process. In certain cases, the commission issued licenses to applicants with whom they had a preexisting relationship. Additionally, the board did not research applicants’ taxation histories or enforce a minimum distance from schools and churches.

The Arkansas Supreme Court Is Reviewing This Case
Arkansas appealed Judge Wendell’s ruling, which brought the case to the Arkansas Supreme Court. On April 25th, they announced that the deadline to enter a plea is May 30th. The Court, parties involved and Arkansas residents are all hoping for a quick judgment.

Arkansas motion, read before the court, states: “A long appellate process during which implementation of Amendment 98 is delayed is contrary to the people’s intent in adopting Amendment 98 and thus contrary to the public interest.”

Timing is of the essence in this case. Since the Supreme Court goes on recess from June 21st through September 6th, it’s essential that they announce a ruling before the summer. If not, medical marijuana patients will have to wait even longer for dispensaries.

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Association’s attorney Alexis Gray is confident that the Supreme Court will reach a decision quickly. She explains, “It will definitely put this on a fast track for resolution, likely in early June.”

Medical Marijuana Is Closer Than Ever In Arkansas
Since 2016, Arkansas has been inching towards medical marijuana accessibility. After a slow reviewing process and legal hang-ups, it seems that the state’s Supreme Court will reach a swift resolution.

Not only is it important for patients have access to medical marijuana, but Arkansas has some of the most comprehensive medical marijuana programs in the South. Success in Arkansas could encourage surrounding states to do follow suit.

And it moves on. The AR Supreme Court goes on hiatus from 21 Jun to Sep so they have at least agreed to hear this case before going on vacation.

Arkansas Supreme Court to Review Ruling That Halted Licenses for Medical Marijuana

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Arkansas Supreme Court says it’ll hear oral arguments over a judge’s decision to prevent the state from licensing companies to grow medical cannabis.

Justices on Monday, May 7, 2018, agreed to hear arguments on Thursday, June 7, 2018, in the state’s appeal of Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen’s decision striking down the licensing process for medical cannabis cultivation facilities. Griffen ruled the process violated the voter-approved constitutional amendment legalizing marijuana for certain medical conditions.

Griffen ruled in favor of an unsuccessful applicant for a cultivation license that had challenged the commission’s decision to issue permits to five businesses.

Arkansas regulators have also stopped reviewing applications for businesses that want to sell medical cannabis because of the ruling.
5 Cultivators Receive Arkansas Medical Marijuana Licenses

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas’ Medical Marijuana Commission has awarded licenses to five cultivation companies after an injunction against issuing the licenses was lifted Tuesday, July 10, 2018.

The injunction was issued in March by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen. He ruled that the award process violated the state’s 2016 constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana. The state Supreme Court reversed Griffen’s decision in June 2018, allowing the state to officially issue the licenses.

The companies that were issued licenses are Natural State Medicinals Cultivation, Bold Team LLC, Natural State Wellness Enterprises, Osage Creek Cultivation, and Delta Medical Cannabis Co.

Licenses were awarded after each company paid a $100,000 license fee and a $500,000 performance bond.

Dustin McDaniel, an attorney for and investor in Natural State Wellness Enterprises, said the company is looking forward to beginning cultivating as soon as possible.

“The voters have made it clear that they want this medication made available to patients expeditiously and we will work diligently to do that,” McDaniel said.

One potential roadblock is that there are currently no licensed dispensaries, and the process to award licenses could be lengthy. The commission has received about 230 applications for 32 dispensary licenses, and is considering hiring an independent consultant to assist reviewing them. On July 12, 2018, the commission was scheduled to review options for hiring the consultant, which will first require an emergency rule change.

The move to hire a consultant also was prompted by allegations of impropriety during the cultivation process. The ruling by Griffen that was overturned supported an unsuccessful cultivation applicant, who had claimed two committee members had conflicts of interest. And in early June, a letter from the Arkansas attorney general revealed that a member of the commission claimed an unsuccessful applicant tried to bribe him.

The commission can issue up to eight cultivation licenses, said Scott Hardin, spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration. However, currently there are no plans to issue additional licenses.

Arkansas won't issue medical marijuana cards until February

Arkansas' health department has yet to issue licenses to the thousands of residents approved to buy medical marijuana in the state, which is affecting patients' ability to get temporary licenses in neighboring Oklahoma.

The Arkansas Department of Health likely won't distribute medical marijuana cards until February, agency spokeswoman Meg Mirivel said. State health officials don't want residents to pay for a card they won't be able to use yet, in part because the cards must be renewed after a year, she said.

Marijuana-growing businesses licensed by Arkansas have said their harvests won't be ready until about April. The Arkansas Health Department has said cards wouldn't be printed until a month before Arkansas dispensaries have medical cannabis available, the Southwest Times Record reported.

Without the state cards, Arkansas patients can't get a temporary out-of-state card to buy, use and grow medical cannabis in Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority won't accept Arkansas patients' medical cannabis approval letters for verification in the temporary license application, said spokeswoman Melissa Miller. Oklahoma's temporary licenses last for 30 days and are renewable. Miller noted medical marijuana and related products cannot be taken across state lines.

Arkansas voters approved a constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana in 2016, but the state's implementation process is moving more slowly than its neighbor.

Oklahoma's medical marijuana agency had awarded licenses to 805 dispensaries, 1,302 growers and 341 processors as of Dec. 31. Meanwhile, Arkansas has awarded five licenses for cultivators to grow marijuana, with plans to award licenses to the state's first dispensaries soon.
Medical marijuana sales in Arkansas set to start mid-May

With the harvest of the state’s first legal cannabis crop just days away, sales of medical marijuana in Arkansas should begin in mid-May, according to government regulators. Department of Finance and Administration spokesman Scott Hardin said on Friday that a dispensary in Hot Springs should receive final approval for its license to sell medical marijuana within the next two weeks and a second retailer in the city should be inspected in about a week. Eventually, there will be 32 licensed dispensaries to serve the state.

“Dispensaries across the state are in varying stages of development,” said Hardin. “There are a few that will be ready for final inspection over the next month to two months, while others are working to break ground. … Enforcement agents are prepared to inspect each facility and remain available to each dispensary to answer any questions throughout the process.”

Dragan Vicentic, the CEO of the Green Springs Medical cannabis dispensary in Hot Springs, said that the shop should receive final approval in time to open in early May. He said that he is already receiving about 25 phone calls a day from patients anxious to learn when the dispensary will open.

“We’re going to hit the ground running as soon as [Alcoholic Beverage Control] approves our facility,” Vicentic said.

First Harvest Next Week
Robert Lercher, a customer relations official with cannabis cultivator Bold Team, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that the company should be harvesting its first crop on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. The flowers will then be dried, cured, trimmed, and packaged before being sent to dispensaries during the second week of May. Lercher said that based on projections from consultants, the company was expecting to harvest about 200 pounds of medical marijuana from its first harvest.

“This process is new to us,” he said. “We’re basically just going off other people’s projections.”

Two other companies that have been licensed to grow cannabis,
Osage Creek Cultivation of Berryville and Natural State Medicinals Cultivation of White Hall, have begun operations but have not said when they expect to make their initial harvest. The final two cultivators to receive state approval are still constructing their facilities and have not yet begun to grow plants.

Arkansas voters legalized the medicinal use of cannabis in 2016 and over 10,000 patients have already registered for the program. If that many patients were to buy the maximum 2.5 ounces of cannabis allowed, Lercher says the initial crop could last only two weeks.

“But who knows how many people are going to get it and if they’re going to get their full allotment?” Lercher said.

Arkansas to renew cards for cannabis patients

With legalized medical marijuana expected to be available soon, state officials plan to issue new registration cards to qualified patients in the coming weeks to ensure that the cards are usable for the entire term for which they were intended.

The Arkansas Department of Health began issuing the cards to patients and caregivers in February, but the drug wasn't available for purchase. The first medical cannabis dispensary is expected to open next month.

"We want to make sure they have a working card that allows them to access medical marijuana that's legally available for the time frame that they were certified for," DiCarlo said. "It's a little bit of a moving target. Once we know that there is medical marijuana available in the state, this will happen automatically through our system."

Arkansans voted to legalize medical marijuana in 2016, approving Amendment 98 to the Arkansas Constitution. However, the program's implementation has been fraught with delays.

In February, state regulators and industry officials said they expected the drug to debut in April, but last week, the first grower said the company couldn't begin harvesting until this week. An official from Bold Team -- the first licensed cultivator to begin growing cannabis -- said the company expects to have the first product available in the second or third week of May after processing the first harvest.

The other four licensed cultivators are in varying stages of production, ranging from construction to early growth.

The drug must be grown at one of five permitted grow-houses and sold at one of 32 dispensaries. Between two and five dispensaries expect to be open when Bold Team makes the first batch of medical marijuana available.

So far, the Health Department has approved more than 10,500 patients and caregivers.

Rusty Adams, 65, of Bentonville is a registered patient because of neuropathy in his feet. He said the drug helps relieve his symptoms.

"It's like needles in your feet, especially when you lay down," he said.

Adams said he was thrilled that the Health Department planned to extend the time his registry ID card is valid, noting that the costs associated with applying for the certification each year can add up.

"I was glad because I immediately thought it was unfair [to issue the card] months before it [cannabis] is available," Adams said.

It costs $50 to apply for the card, which must be renewed annually. Patient advocate Melissa Fults, director of the Drug Policy Education Group, also noted that many patients must see doctors who aren't their own because some hospitals don't allow their doctors to write medical marijuana recommendationsFults said it can cost up to $400 to get certified after paying for registration fees and doctor's appointments. Patients must then buy the drug out of their own pockets because it isn't covered by insurance the way traditional medications sometimes are.

"That's a burden," she said. "Especially when you consider that many of the people who are getting these cards are disabled and on a very fixed income."

DiCarlo emphasized that patients don't need to take any action to have new cards sent to them. A letter and card will be sent automatically to those who received the certification before the drug was available for purchase.

Medical marijuana on sale in Arkansas for the first time

Marijuana is being legally sold in Arkansas for the first time in 96 years this weekend.

It sold medical marijuana to a patient Friday afternoon.

People were allowed inside one at a time starting at about 9 a.m. Some people were in line before midnight.

A dispensary spokesperson told those in line they may only be able to process five people an hour.

The owner of Doctor's Orders RX, Don Sears, released this statement:

Doctor's Orders RX has successfully resolved all software problems. As a result, we were able to sell medical marijuana to an Arkansan with a physician-issued medical marijuana card.

The facility will be open tomorrow between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Patients will be served on a first-come, first-served basis; product availability is limited. We expect long lines and apologize for any inconvenience. However, at this time, processing schedules are unpredictable and out of our control. But we are thrilled to, finally, be able to provide Arkansans with the prescriptions they have waited more than two years to fill.

Green Springs Medical in Hot Springs was given final approval from Arkansas' Alcoholic Beverage Control Friday, May 10.

Follow this link to learn what you'll need to legally get medical marijuana in Arkansas

The business at 309 Seneca Street has told 40/29 News it plans to open on Monday, May 13, 2019 at 10 a.m. The business and ABC expect lines to form before the doors open.

Patients must have their medical marijuana ID card in order to enter the store.

A total of 11,739 patient cards had been issued as of May 10, 2019. By law, Arkansas patients can only buy 2.5 ounces of marijuana every 14 days.

The store is placing an additional limit, saying customers can only purchase 0.5 ounces during the first week, due to supply. It estimates it will have enough marijuana for about 1,600 patients.

Patients will not be allowed to use medical marijuana in public.

Scott Hardin with the Arkansas Department of Finance Administration confirmed that when the first two dispensaries open in Hot Springs, they will not have edibles.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge says now is the time to reach out to your employer to determine if they have updated rules regarding medical marijuana.

“Medical marijuana is essentially the same as any prescription and the impetus is on the individual employee to notify his or her supervisor of whether they would be prohibited from operating heavy equipment for example.”

ABC enforcement agents will continue to conduct site visits at the dispensaries during regular business hours, similar to how they conduct checks of bars and restaurants.

No additional inspections are scheduled yet at the 30 other licensed dispensaries, Scott Hardin, ABC spokesperson, said. Follow this link for a map of the potential dispensary sites in Arkansas.

Arkansas first enacted legal restrictions on marijuana in 1923. In November 2016, state voters passed a law allowing marijuana for medical use under certain restrictions. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
I believe that this is the definition of pent up demand, no? haha

Week 1 of prescription pot sales in state hit 52 lbs.; untaxed receipts total $353,802

Arkansans bought 52 pounds of medical marijuana during the first week of legal sales in the state, according to figures reported to state regulators.

Both dispensaries open in the state (Green Springs Medical and Doctor's Orders RX, both in Garland County) have publicized prices of $15 per gram, meaning the first week of sales brought in $353,802, excluding sales tax and the 4% state privilege tax levied on medical cannabis.

The early sales numbers, reported to the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, eased fears that dispensaries would run out of the limited product available in Arkansas.

Bold Team of Cotton Plant -- the only cultivation facility to have harvested and processed medical cannabis thus far in Arkansas -- reported that initial yields produced 200 pounds of usable cannabis, and that was sent to the two dispensaries. Over the weekend, it shipped the dispensaries another 50 pounds from another harvest, company spokesman Robert Lercher said.

So far, the growing company has been able to provide only the two retailers with dry cannabis flower, which is usually smoked, but Lercher said Bold Team hopes to soon make edible products available.

"We are working on gummies, but it is quite a process to get those 100% ready for the shelf," he said.

Arkansans voted to legalize medical marijuana in 2016, and the drug was first sold legally on May 11 after 2½ years of legal and bureaucratic delays.

[RELATED: Complete Democrat-Gazette coverage of medical marijuana in Arkansas]

The next step for the program is for the remaining four growers and 30 retailers to become fully operational.

State and industry officials expect the program to take off over the summer.

Scott Hardin, a spokesman for the Department of Finance and Administration, said that Arkansas Natural Products, a Clinton dispensary, has requested a June 6 inspection and others should soon follow.

"We understand dispensaries in Hensley and Helena-West Helena are making significant progress toward scheduling inspections," Hardin said.

Officials from cultivation companies Osage Creek Cultivation of Berryville and Natural State Medicinals Cultivation have not responded to requests for updates about their progress and expected harvest dates.

However, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette obtained from sources an email update that Natural State Medicinals sent to dispensaries early this month. Robert Lemberes, Natural State Medicinals' senior vice president of sales and marketing, said the growing company would make its first eight strains available around June 1.

"Additionally, we are extracting and manufacturing cannabis related products, and we are going to start with a few product offerings then expand based upon the market demands," Lemberes said in the email. "That said, by mid July 2019 we expect to provide concentrates including vape cartridges and concentrate syringes. We will also have the following edibles -- chocolates, hard candies and gummies."

Hardin said the Finance Department expects Osage Creek to harvest shortly after Natural State Medicinals in "early summer."

Bailey Moll, a spokesman for Doctor's Orders RX, said the company was satisfied with the first week of sales. The state-mandated tracking software that had caused some delays at first has stabilized, he said. He encouraged patients to bring all their paperwork with them on their first visit to the dispensary to ensure there aren't hiccups.

The product supply, he said, remains adequate. Doctor's Orders RX has sold 24.5 pounds over the first week of sales. Its first full day of sales was May 11.

"Doctor's Orders RX has no concern about continuing to be able to serve patients," Moll said. "We've been thrilled with the number of patients that we've been able to serve this first week."

Green Springs Medical sold 27.5 pounds during its first week being open. It opened May 12. Attempts to reach Green Springs Medical dispensary officials over the past week weren't successful.

Hardin said the tracking software used to follow transactions was unable to show how many patients had been served.

Arkansas' sales figures through the first week of legal cannabis sales outpaced the opening of Ohio's medical marijuana program debut earlier this year.

Retailers in Ohio -- the most recent state to roll out a medical cannabis program -- averaged about $248,000 per week during the first two months of operations, according to Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program data.

Patients here have chafed that there aren't more dispensaries open, and it requires long drives for many in the state to visit Hot Springs to legally purchase the drug.

They've also complained about high prices, which are more than triple the street value of the drug. The drug in other states with medical cannabis programs is available for $10 per gram or less in many cases.

Prices have dropped in other states as more cultivation facilities became operable and additional dispensaries opened. Experts expect a similar price drop here.

Also last week, the Russellville City Council voted against issuing a conditional-use permit to 420 RX to locate a dispensary there. Adam Harrison of 420 RX said the company was disappointed with the council's decision. The dispensary is considering its options, but it plans to appeal the permit denial to circuit court, Harrison said.

Thus far, the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission has approved all change of location requests brought to it by licensed dispensaries.

As of Friday, the Arkansas Department of Health had issued 12,090 medical marijuana registry ID cards to patients and eligible caregivers. Meg Mirivel, a department spokesman, said the number of applications had remained steady with no uptick after the recent opening of the first dispensary. She said the agency had 1,182 applications in the approval process.

Patients may obtain medical marijuana cards if a doctor certifies that they suffer from one of 18 qualifying conditions; the cards may also be issued to eligible caregivers if a patient is unable to visit a dispensary on his own.

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