Arkansas’ medical marijuana program made another important step on Wednesday. After some holdup, the state’s Medical Marijuana Commission issued its first licenses to five select cultivation companies.
Arkansas Issues First Five Medical Marijuana Cultivation Licenses
If there’s one thing most newly-christened legal weed states have in common, it’s a hold up in the licensing process. This time, the roadblock came courtesy of an injunction levied against the state’s licensing process.
Back in March, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen issued the injunction. He stated that the licensing process was in violation of the state’s original 2016 constitutional amendment that effectively legalized medicinal cannabis. However, the state Supreme Court ended up reversing Griffen’s decision last month, opening the doors for the state to finally dole out the licenses. The Supreme court nullified the decision based off of their agreement that Griffen did not have the authority to issue such an injunction.
The five companies awarded MMJ cultivation licenses were Natural State Medicinals Cultivation, Bold Team, LLC, Natural State Wellness Enterprises, Osage Creek Cultivation and Delta Medical Cannabis Company, Inc. Each company paid a $100,000 license fee and a $500,000 performance bond.
There are 90 cultivation licenses applicants remaining. The commission is allowed to select up to eight companies. However, it remains to be seen whether or not they will approve any more applicants.
As for the companies that were approved, there could be additional roadblocks ahead. According to the Associated Press, there are no actual dispensaries licensed at this time. This means there is no retail sector to actually sell products.
And apparently, the dispensary licensing process could also be elongated.
There are 32 dispensary licenses available but 227 total applicants. The state is apparently considering bringing in an independent consultant to help review the applications. However, the state will have to issue an emergency rule change in order to hire the consultant.
Per the AP, the move to hire an outside consultant is due to Griffen’s injunction. The move allegedly was in support of an unsuccessful cultivation applicant and considered a conflict of interest.
“The voters have made it clear that they want this medication made available to patients expeditiously and we will work diligently to do that,” McDaniel said to the AP.
Despite the potential issues that lie ahead for medical marijuana cultivators, the approved companies remain optimistic. Dustin McDaniel, an attorney/investor for Natural State Wellness Enterprises, is excited to get things underway.