MAP: List’s out on 1st 32 medical marijuana buy sites in Arkansas
The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission on Tuesday released a list of the state’s first 32 cannabis dispensaries, revealing where patients will be able to purchase marijuana products in the coming months.
The commission decided to spread the retail outlets across eight regions in the state with four dispensaries per zone, but patient advocates said Tuesday that the dispensaries aren’t evenly distributed around the state.
Only one dispensary will be in Little Rock — the state’s largest city — and a large portion of northeast Arkansas, including Jonesboro, won’t have a dispensary nearby.
Melissa Fults, director of the Drug Policy Education Group, said many patients will have long drives to get their medication.
“They’re in terrible places with the least amount of population,” Fults said. “I mean one for Little Rock, really? None for Bryant and Benton? They’ve done what they’ve always done; they’ve done an injustice to the patients.”
Scott Hardin, a spokesman for Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control, another agency involved in the marijuana program, said the final dispensary paid its licensing fee and posted its performance bond Monday. Formal licenses are in the process of being issued.
More than 200 groups applied for one of the coveted dispensary licenses. Those applications were reviewed and scored by Boston-based consulting firm Public Consulting Group with the top-scoring groups receiving permits to sell.
The five licenses to grow the drug were issued in July, and one company began growing last month. The other growers are in various stages of construction.
State regulators and industry insiders expect the first dispensary to open with cannabis available in about two months.
“We anticipate the first dispensaries will open no later than mid-April,” said Alex Gray, an attorney for the Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association.
Arkansans approved Amendment 98 to the Arkansas Constitution in 2016, making the Natural State one of 33 where medical marijuana is legal. Court challenges and bureaucratic hurdles, though, have slowed the implementation of the state’s program.
The amendment allows for up to 40 dispensaries, but the commission elected to start with 32 and monitor demand.
While the bulk of the drug will be grown by the five licensed cultivators, dispensaries may also grow a limited amount of plants. Twenty-two of the selected dispensaries plan to grow up to 50 mature plants, according to Alcoholic Beverage Control data.
About 7,000 patients have been approved for medical marijuana ID cards, according to the state Health Department, but that number is expected to grow as the rollout of the drug becomes imminent. The cards allow patients and their caregivers to buy and possess medical marijuana.
The Health Department plans to begin issuing the cards, which cost $50, later this month. A patient can be approved for a card if a doctor certifies that the patient suffers from one of 18 medical conditions.
A bill has been filed in the General Assembly to more than triple the number of qualifying health conditions.
As for the patients, Fults said many live on fixed incomes and suffer from debilitating health conditions. Long drives to buy medical marijuana will take a toll.
“Patients are excited that some dispensaries are finally going to open, but I don’t think a lot of them realize where they’ll be,” Fults said.
Fults, a patient herself, will be able to use a dispensary in Hensley, 5 minutes from her home.
“We got lucky,” she said. “But there’s going to be several thousand that aren’t.”
A Section on 02/06/2019
Print Headline: MAP: List’s out on 1st 32 medical marijuana buy sites in Arkansas
MAP: List’s out on 1st 32 medical marijuana buy sites in Arkansas The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission on Tuesday released a list of the state’s first 32 cannabis dispensaries, revealing
The Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association (ACIA) is a 501(c)(6) cannabis industry trade association advocating for laws, regulations, and public policies that foster a healthy, professional and accountable medical cannabis industry in our state.
Our mission has four main components:
- Advocating for the Industry
- Bringing the Industry Together
- Protecting Patients
Advocating for the Industry
ACIA is committed to becoming a recognized and trusted voice before policymakers, regulators, and the community at large. We are charged with protecting the industry from overly burdensome regulations and laws that would impede industry growth and infringe on the rights of patients to access medical cannabis. To achieve these goals, we actively monitor new proposed legislation and regulatory actions supporting and/or advocating against policies that would do harm to the industry. Simply, we serve as the eyes and ears for the industry.
Knowledge is key to the success of Arkansas’s medical cannabis industry. The more that patients, physicians, and industry businesses know about medical cannabis, the stronger the industry will be.
We hold patient education seminars in order to teach Arkansans about the science behind medical cannabis, how medical cannabis can treat the current qualifying medical conditions, how to find a physician to write a medical cannabis certification, and how to submit the application for a patient card to the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH).
We hold seminars geared towards the healthcare industry (nurses, doctors, and pharmacists) in order to educate them about medical cannabis and how it interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system. Many physicians are hesitant to write medical cannabis certifications for their patients because they don’t understand the medical benefits of the cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant; this has not been taught in medical school. These seminars, which often award CEU credits, are designed to allow healthcare professionals to be able to have informed conversations about medical cannabis with their patients. As a reminder, doctors are not required to prescribe or recommend medical cannabis for their patients, they are just certifying that patients have a listed qualifying medical condition, as recognized by the ADH.
Business License Holders
ACIA offers professional development and networking opportunities to our industry members. We’ve held seminars ranging from taxation to extraction, to general business operations and security. We want to help industry participants operate better businesses, providing high quality and affordable cannabis to the patients of Arkansas.
Bringing the Industry Together
ACIA is an association that aims to meet the diverse needs of our members by providing exceptional professional development and networking opportunities.
It is APAIC’s goal to work closely with cultivators and dispensaries to develop a robust industry in Arkansas that meets the needs of our state’s medical cannabis patients while protecting the best interests of the businesses that serve them.
Patients in Arkansas deserve high quality, safe, and affordable medical cannabis. We aim to promote cannabis product safety by educating our members on proper production, testing, and packaging procedures. We also protect patients by advocating against overly burdensome laws and regulations that would make medical cannabis more expensive in Arkansas. For example, we fought against proposed bills that would have prohibited the sale of cannabis in Arkansas until it becomes legal federally, we fought against bans on smoking cannabis, and we fought against a ban on cannabis edibles, which is often a preferred method of ingestion for the elderly.
Our Mission The Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association (ACIA) is a 501(c)(6) cannabis industry trade association advocating for laws, regulations, and public policies that foster a healthy,