Arkansas moves closer toward launching medical pot program

An Arkansas panel on Wednesday named 32 companies it intends to license to sell medical marijuana, two years after voters approved its legalization and following a series of delays that have frustrated patients and advocates.

The state Medical Marijuana Commission approved the scores from an outside consultant it had hired to evaluate about 200 applications for dispensaries. The companies must pay a $15,000 licensing fee and post a $100,000 performance bond before the licenses to sell the drug are formally issued. The commission last year awarded five cultivation licenses to grow medical marijuana.


Pediatric nurse appointed to Arkansas marijuana board

A pediatric nurse who says he's seen the positive effects of medical marijuana on his patients has been appointed to the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission.

Justin Smith, 38, was appointed to the board Monday, The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported . Smith is a nurse at Arkansas Children's Hospital and has worked in pediatric care for 11 years. He replaces James Miller, who resigned last month to focus on his family and business.

Smith said he's seen cannabis products help treat children with epilepsy.

"I've seen it work with my own eyes," Smith said. "When you see that, it kind of changes your mind and perspective on things. Especially in my case, when you see it work on children, you can't really deny it has some benefit with proper application."


Arkansas won't issue medical marijuana cards until February

Arkansas' health department has yet to issue licenses to the thousands of residents approved to buy medical marijuana in the state, which is affecting patients' ability to get temporary licenses in neighboring Oklahoma.

The Arkansas Department of Health likely won't distribute medical marijuana cards until February, agency spokeswoman Meg Mirivel said. State health officials don't want residents to pay for a card they won't be able to use yet, in part because the cards must be renewed after a year, she said.


Arkansas residents can obtain Oklahoma marijuana license

Thousands of Arkansas residents with valid medical marijuana licenses can receive a temporary medical marijuana adult license in Oklahoma, authorities said.

The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority has issued more than 33,000 patient licenses since voters overwhelmingly authorized medical cannabis in June. And KFSM reports residents of Arkansas and other states with state-issued medical marijuana licenses can apply for a temporary license in Oklahoma.


Arkansas medical marijuana dispensary licenses delayed until January 2019

The path to legal marijuana in Arkansas has been rocky at best. Though voters in 2016 approved a medical cannabis measure granting access to patients with certain conditions, residents have seen a plethora of stumbling blocks from anti-pot Republicans and legal complainants. On Tuesday, one more hold-up was announced: the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission is delaying its designation of 20 to 32 more dispensary licenses until next year.


Arkansas medical marijuana dispensaries to be announced; growing centers making progress

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission announced the five top-scoring growing centers earlier this year.

Some of those centers plan to be ready in the next few months. Osage Creek Cultivation in Berryville is one of those centers.​

Matt Trulove, with Osage Creek Cultivation. said,“We are in the dry. All the walls are sheeted. The roof’s on and complete. Beginning all the interior work.”

They plan to finish construction March 1st.

Trulove said, “Then we’re anticipating a 90 day cycle from the approval process before medicine will be available or when we’re complete. So that will be a June 1 delivery date."

Commission members scored all the growing center applications, but a consulting firm is scoring the dispensaries.​


Arkansas startup unveils plans for state's first accredited cannabis lab

Arkansas’ first announced cannabis testing lab will hold an open house and dedication next week as the Natural State moves closer to entering the fast-growing medical marijuana industry that is now legal in 31 states.

On Wednesday, Dec. 12, Steep Hill Arkansas has scheduled an open house for its state-of-the-art cannabis testing lab at 11711 Hermitage Road, Suite 5, in Little Rock, from 5-7 p.m. Steven DeAngelo, co-founder of Harborside, Steep Hill Laboratory, the Arc View Group, the National Cannabis Industry Association and other cannabis-related businesses and organizations, will give the dedication speech at 6 p.m.


Arkansas medical marijuana growers to be ready by spring

Two of the businesses licensed by Arkansas to grow medical marijuana say they expect to have it available for dispensaries as soon as April.

Officials with the five licensed cultivation facilities updated the state Medical Marijuana Commission on Wednesday about their construction and growing timelines. Arkansas voters approved a constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana in 2016.

Bold Team LLC and Natural State Medicinals told the panel they expected to have medical marijuana ready for dispensaries by April. Osage Creek Cultivation, Natural State Wellness Enterprises and Delta Medical Cannabis Co. expect to have theirs ready later in the summer. The commission delayed until Dec. 19 voting on Delta's request to move the site of its proposed facility.


Concern about the lack of a doctor to score Arkansas marijuana dispensary applications

A company hired to grade Arkansas medical marijuana dispensary applications says it can deliver scores to the state by the end of next month. But at a meeting Tuesday, the chair of the state’s Medical Marijuana Commission voiced concerns that no physicians are part of the scoring team.

Thomas Aldridge, a manager with Public Consulting Group, spoke with commissioners about the process to help decide who should get the 32 licenses for dispensaries that will be spread throughout the state. About 200 entities have submitted applications.


Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission wants AG's legal help

Arkansas' Medical Marijuana Commission wants the state attorney general's office to provide its legal advice instead of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division.

The commission has received legal guidance from ABC attorneys since it was formed in 2016. But the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that the commission's chairwoman, Dr. Ronda Henry-Tillman, has asked Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's office to provide legal counsel.

Several commission members have questioned the ABC staff's handling of medical marijuana cultivation license applications and raised concerns about communication between the commission and ABC staff.


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