The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission changed rules Thursday to clear the way to granting the state’s last two dispensary licenses to enterprises in Garland County and Texarkana.
The state’s 39th and 40th dispensaries will be Green Remedies Group, which will install a Garland County store, and T&C Management, which will operate in Texarkana.
A voter-approved 2016 constitutional change legalizing medicinal cannabis allowed a maximum of 40 dispensaries statewide, and the commission had granted 38 licenses across eight zones in Arkansas. Six of those zones ended up with five dispensaries, but Zone 6 – including Garland County – and southwest Arkansas’ Zone 8 wound up with only four each.
Commission Chairman James Miller has moved to add a dispensary in each of the two zones for a year or more, arguing that such a move would “level the playing field” and complete the long build-out of the highly regulated Arkansas medical marijuana industry by handing out the last of 48 possible cultivation and dispensary licenses.
The rule change allowed the commission to consider runner-up dispensary applications that had expired on the long road to 40 outlets. “The applications that were submitted in late 2017 have been the source of all licenses issued to date,” state spokesman Scott Hardin told Arkansas Business on Friday. “The rules allowed these applications to remain active and in reserve for 24 months.”
With that period concluded, “applications are no longer active or in reserve,” he said.
Thursday’s action formally approved the rule change to revive the applications after a 30-day public comment period. The bottom line is that the commission will not have to start an application process from scratch before awarding the final two dispensary licenses.
“The last step is approval from the Arkansas Legislative Council,” Hardin said. “We anticipate the two licenses will be issued by March. This rule change will allow the remaining two licenses to be issued but will not have a long-term effect. Amendment 98 allows for a maximum of 40 dispensaries and eight cultivators. With the remaining two licenses issued, we will have 40 dispensaries and eight cultivators. The state Constitution would have to be amended to allow for additional dispensaries or growers.”
The Commission used previous scoring to determine the companies next in line for a license in Zones 6 and 8.”
The Garland County dispensary, Green Remedies Group, will be placed outside of any city limits. T&C Management will be within the city limits of Texarkana, Arkansas.