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Cannabis Processor Scores LicenseLock Icon

3 min read

After a long drought, Arkansas has its first cannabis processing licensee, Shake Extractions LLC of Johnson.

In addition, two other companies have processing applications before the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission in its April 19 meeting in Little Rock.

The state started accepting applications for marijuana processing and transporting businesses in February, and for several weeks saw no applicants for either specialty. There are still no transport applications, state spokesman Scott Hardin said, expressing surprise.

The two processor applications will be considered next month in a meeting postponed from March 29. They are Dark Horse Medicinals of Little Rock, a partnership of University of Arkansas graduates that has been active in the CBD industry for two years, and Ouachita Partners LLC of Hot Springs, led by David Owen.

The first licensee, Shake Extractions, has been branding and making chemical-free CBD products since shortly after hemp was legalized nationwide by the 2018 farm bill.

Julie Brents, the company’s COO, told Whispers on Thursday that she returned to her native Fayetteville about six years ago after living in California, where she was part of an investor team with a 10-acre cannabis farm, Emerald Valley Growers Association LLC.

Arkansas was on the cusp of voting to legalize medical cannabis at that time, Brents said. She and her partners primed themselves for the cannabis industry by working in hemp and CBD, where they launched brands like CBD & Me and Hydro Hemp Co.

The hemp products include “topicals, tinctures, balms and rollerballs, all chemical and pesticide free,” Brents said. “Now with the cannabis license, we’ll be rolling out similar products under cannabis brands.” Those, she said, will have THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

The company’s lab is in Johnson, though for obvious reasons Brents is not casual with its location. “We’ll be buying marijuana flower from the cultivators or grow dispensaries to use in our products,” she said.

Another CBD Veteran

Casey Flippo, one of the founders of Dark Horse Medicinals, also has experience in the CBD space as CEO of Natvana LLC. “We’ve been active about two years doing third-party hemp processing out of Stuttgart,” Flippo told Whispers. “We were one of the first companies licensed after the 2018 farm bill.”

The LLC worked with dozens of farmers getting into the hemp business, helping turn harvests “into quality extracts and finished products,” Flippo said. “We have extensive experience in this kind of business model, and we’re taking that expertise we obtained in the hemp space and applying it to cannabis.”

Dark Horse will be taking over the lease at Natvana’s office in west Little Rock, and Natvana will be headquartered at its address in Stuttgart, Flippo said.

The Medical Marijuana Commission also had three change-of-ownership requests by dispensaries on its April 19 agenda. The companies are RxMed, doing business as Red River Remedy in Texarkana; Natural Relief Dispensary of Sherwood; and Acanza of Fayetteville.

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