Patients, growers, and prospective dispensary owners can apply Friday to state officials in Arkansas to join the state’s brand new medical marijuana program.
Arkansas voters approved medical marijuana in the state last year. Since then the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission (AMMC), under the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Administration, was established to organize the program and work out its details.
Arkansas officials said they expect 20,000 to 40,000 patients to apply for a medical marijuana registration card. Those cards will cost $50 so even if 30,000 apply, the registration fee will cover the $1.5 million officials have said it will cost to run the marijuana program there.
The AMMC will also begin accepting applications Friday for “cultivation” facilities, or marijuana grow operations. The AMMC will issue only five licenses but can also issue less than that number if “an insufficient number of qualified applicants” meet the September 18 application deadline.
Also, the commission will start to accept applications for 32 dispensaries across the state. The commission carved up the state in eight geography zones and each zone will get four dispensaries. The zone closest to Memphis stretched from the Missouri boot heel to Crittenden County, home to West Memphis.
Arkansans will get their marijuana registration cards as soon as dispensaries are approved, established, and ready to sell. State officials said that could be early 2018.
Not all cities are required to have medical marijuana dispensaries, though. The law passed by voters allows cities to opt out. So far, only Hot Springs and Siloam Springs have chosen bans (but those bans are only a few months long).
Of course, the law does not give marijuana patients carte blanche to smoke just anywhere. According to the law, marijuana cannot be consumed on a school bus, on the grounds of any preschool or primary or secondary school, in a motor vehicle, any government building, health care facility, and more.
Also, patients will only receive a medical marijuana registration card if they are an Arkansas resident, of course, and can prove they have cancer, glaucoma, HIV, Hepatitis C, lateral sclerosis, Tourette’s syndrome, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, PTSD, severe arthritis, fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s disease, cachexia, peripheral neuropathy, or chronic pain.
Business is slowly beginning to grow around the new program. Some websites, like weedmaps.com and ardispensaries.com are waiting to populate their maps to help patients find dispensaries in the Natural State.
Another company, The Herbal Compliance Co., is now trying to attract investors with a “golden opportunity” that awaits working in the “cannabis compliance” space.
The Horseshoe Lake-based company is holding a meeting today to attract those investors in hopes of raising between $100,000 and $1 million. The minimum buy-in is $100.
That money will start the business that aims to help marijuana companies navigate the waters between state law and federal law.