On the morning of January 19, local media outlets published several stories updating the residents of Arkansas on medical marijuana, as the opening of dispensaries continues at a slow pace. Half of the state’s licensed dispensaries are not yet operational and the state is moving to compel them to open or risk losing their licenses.
The Medical Marijuana Commission in Arkansas is planning to meet with all the dispensary owners and marijuana growing companies to discuss and determine whether their licenses should be extended for another year. There are 32 dispensary operators and five cannabis growing companies.
It is one year since the first licenses were issued, and 16 dispensaries are yet to open. The companies that have not opened or made any progress may lose their licenses, the commissioners hinted.
Although voters legalized medical marijuana through the ballot back in 2016, the state has made very little progress. The licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries were issued in 2019, and the first dispensary was opened in May the same year. So far, 16 dispensaries are operational, and they have so far sold 5,000 pounds of marijuana for not less than $33 million. Arkansas residents with medical marijuana cards are about 35,000.
Many operational dispensaries are looking to start growing their own marijuana. The spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, Scott Hardin, said that the dispensaries are also licensed to cultivate marijuana, but they had opted to start with the shop outlet so that they could become operational faster.
According to some business representatives, many businesses are planning to grow the amount of marijuana permitted by the state, which is 50 mature plants. The dispensaries include Acanza in Fayetteville, The ReLeaf Center in Bentonville, and The Source in Bentonville. Currently, the three businesses are buying cannabis from the three cultivation sites in the state. According to Arkansas law, dispensaries within the state may only purchase marijuana for their shops from the cultivation sites within Arkansas.
Hardin said that when the four dispensaries located in Northwest applied for their licenses, they were approved to add a cultivation location. But because the state must first inspect the cultivation location, the four dispensaries could not begin their cultivation process.
The state of Arkansas is working to establish rules and regulations for dispensaries with cultivation locations so that they can also be allowed to process their marijuana once its harvested.
Analysts believe that the entire cannabis industry, including Lexaria Biosciences Corp. (CSE: LXX) (OTCQX: LXRP), would be glad to see all licensed dispensaries open for business so that the people of Arkansas can have many options to choose from.
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