Whispers has learned from the Arkansas Department of Finance & Administration the identities of the new owners of a Morrilton medical marijuana dispensary sold last year after the previous owners paid heavy taxes, according to a lawsuit.
The new owners of Enlightened Dispensary Morrilton are Tamika Edwards, who has a 62.5% stake with her DSMS Ventures LLC, and Dustin Shroyer, who has a 37.5% share through Revolution Ventures AR LLC.
Edwards is director of diversity, equity and inclusion at Southwest Power Pool, the electric grid management nonprofit based in Little Rock, and a former Central Arkansas Water executive and aide to former Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lambert Lincoln.
Shroyer is president and chief operating officer of Revolution Cannabis of Chicago, which has management agreements with four Arkansas dispensaries: Enlightened Dispensaries in Morrilton, Heber Springs, Arkadelphia and Clarksville.
The Morrilton and Heber Springs dispensaries are the subject of lawsuits claiming that the Heber Springs dispensary owners and the former owners of the Morrilton dispensary were figureheads used by attorneys Nate Steel and Alex Gray as fronts to meet a constitutional requirement that medical cannabis companies be at least 60% owned by Arkansans.
Steel and Gray and their law firm, Steel Wright Gray of Little Rock, have filed their own lawsuit against their former law partner Marshall Wright, who is one of the plaintiffs in the suits against them. Gray and Josh Landers are minority owners of the Heber Springs dispensary, but say they pay taxes on cannabis sales without getting revenue from them.
The Steel-Gray lawsuit also names Scott Pace as a defendant. Pace, a pharmacist, lawyer and former CEO of the Arkansas Pharmacists Association, was a minority owner in the Morrilton dispensary.
Pace’s co-owners in Morrilton were Paige Fisher and her husband, Bryan; entrepreneur Rick Don Angel; and Ron Smith, president and CEO of Curtis H. Stout of Little Rock. Paige Fisher is a district sales manager for Nevro, a medical device company; Bryan Fisher is associate vice president for development at Arkansas Tech University.
Their lawsuit says that the Fishers, Pace, Angel and Smith paid taxes on “fictional (but taxable)” dispensary income of $975,147.
The suit says the Fishers, Pace, Angel and Smith were “ascribed fictional (but taxable) income” of $975,000 in 2021, and were facing a tax liability of $376,000 for 2022 before selling to Edwards and Shroyer for roughly the same amount as their tax burdens, according to the complaint. The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission approved the sale in the fall of 2022.
State records show that the Heber Springs dispensary is owned — at least on paper — by Dr. Regina Thurman of Fayetteville, 55%; Landers, 25%; Wright 19%; and Big Fish ESG LLC, led by Sandra Garcia, 1%.
Thurman and Garcia are not parties to the lawsuit.