The state’s three new medical marijuana cultivation licensees are facing litigation (see Litigation In the Air), but did you know a third cannabis dispensary is under construction in Little Rock, and it’s also facing a lawsuit?
A company 93% owned by Kattie Hansen and her father, Walter Koon, is converting the old Mathis Tire property opposite Allsopp Park at 3720 Cantrell Road into Native Green Dispensary, one of eight yet-unopened cannabis retail sites the state is eager to introduce to the market. Koon and Hansen’s partners are Leslie Duncan, who owns 5%, and Chris Olsen, 2%.
“Ms. Hansen was previously an owner of Native Green Wellness in Hensley, but she sold her percentage of that dispensary, which allows ownership of Native Green,” said state spokesman Scott Hardin. State rules allow individuals to have ownership interest in just one dispensary plus one cultivation center.
“The owners indicated the dispensary should be operational by the end of the year,” Hardin said, saying the Saline County dispensary will soon be known as Hensley Wellness Center. “We expect the next four months to be busy as the eight dispensaries open, along with the three new cultivators.”
Koon Properties LLC acquired the Mathis location in January for $375,000, according to Pulaski County records, and a Little Rock building permit application lists Walter Koon as the contractor on the Cantrell project.
The dispensary was granted its license in June, along with three other dispensary companies, to accommodate a growing market. “This may be confusing, but the dispensary in Hensley was previously Native Green.” (An employee answering the phone there last week still used that name, but Hardin said a formal name change had been submitted to the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission.)
A company competing for a dispensary license, Green Thumb Industries of Illinois, sued earlier this year and briefly won a preliminary restraining order against the state’s licensing of the Cantrell site, claiming that Native Green was essentially getting a second dispensary.
But Pulaski County Circuit Judge Mary McGowan rescinded her earlier order, allowing work to proceed.
Hansen’s mother, Anita Koon, held a minority stake in the new LLC that took over Native Green’s license for the Hensley location back in March, but Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge declared that Arkansas’ rules do not prohibit relatives from owning different dispensaries.
“Just over 12 months ago, we didn’t have a dispensary in Little Rock, and the city’s first dispensary didn’t open until July 2019,” Hardin told Whispers. “We didn’t have anything even near Little Rock. And now we have six dispensaries within 30 minutes of Little Rock, and this dispensary will be the seventh.”