With only 10 Arkansas medical marijuana dispensaries running and the state pressing the other 22 licensed companies to move quickly, Whispers has word that dispensaries in Little Rock and Sherwood plan to open late next month or in early December.
Natural Relief Dispensary in Sherwood and Little Rock’s Natural State Wellness and Herbology all report plans to be selling medical marijuana before the end of the year, barring complications with the weather or state regulators.
Sherwood dispensary co-owner Brian Faught says construction is nearly complete at 3107 E. Kiehl Ave. Natural State is also making quick progress on its site at 900 S. Rodney Parham, next to the Interstate 630 interchange in Little Rock.
“We’re currently on schedule for November or early December,” said Alex Howe, director of corporate communications for Harvest Health & Recreation Inc. of Tempe, Arizona. Harvest Health, through a subsidiary that bought the site for $200,000 earlier this year, will be the dispensary’s landlord.
A ramshackle 2,512-SF building that once housed Gallery 360, an eclectic artists’ space, has been transformed for Natural State, which is majority owned by Henry Wilkins V.
In an email, Howe said the opening would come as soon as the facility is inspected and cleared by the Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control Division, which oversees compliance in the state’s new medical cannabis industry.
Meanwhile, signage has gone up a quarter-mile away at the future site of Little Rock’s other dispensary, to be branded Herbology, in the former Joubert’s Tavern at 7303 Kanis Road.
Grassroots Opco, as the dispensary is officially named, is affiliated with Grassroots Cannabis, a Chicago-based chain with licensed dispensaries in several states.
“We are anticipating opening in November, but as always there are often governmental and licensing delays that are out of our control,” said a reply from the Grassroots/Herbology customer service department.
Grassroots Cannabis founders Mitchell Kahn and Matt Darin have a 4% stake in the Little Rock dispensary, which is 70% owned by Lindsey Lovett Estes.
Faught, who owns the Sherwood dispensary with his brother Michael, retired CEO of roofing and waterproofing contractor Roberts-McNutt, says his 4,000-SF building is nearly ready.
“It will have 2,000 square feet of retail space, with six registers and a staff of wellness consultants to handle the patient flow that we expect,” Faught said.
He has already prepared a product pipeline.
“I have a good friend at Bold Team [of Cotton Plant], the first cultivation company in operation, and a good relationship with another of the state’s cultivators,” Faught said.
“There will be no problem with product supply.”
Good News to State
The impending Pulaski County dispensary openings are welcome news to state officials who hope increased competition will bring down cannabis prices, which at more than $400 an ounce are among the highest in the country for legal marijuana.
Ten dispensaries have opened so far, including the latest, Harvest, which opened in Conway on Oct. 11 and sold 4.5 pounds of marijuana in its first weekend, about $30,000 worth.
State spokesman Scott Hardin said the director of the ABC, which oversees cannabis compliance, is on the record as willing to take action against dispensary owners seen as stalling.
“Amendment 98 [which legalized medical cannabis in Arkansas] does not include a date by which dispensaries must be operational,” Hardin said. “The pace at which these dispensaries are developed and open for business is totally at the discretion of owners.”
However, ABC enforcement agents check in with owners regularly, reminding them that companies have a duty to serve patients quickly.
“ABC Director Doralee Chandler does have discretion to take action, issuing violations and related penalties,” Hardin said. “Director Chandler recently stated ABC is prepared to take action against dispensaries that are not operational by the end of January 2020.” They were licensed in January 2019, though no dispensaries opened until May.