The state Finance and Administration Department now says it will likely be tomorrow before full applications are released for the top five scorers for the permits to grow marijuana for sale to dispensaries in Arkansas. The applications will contain more information about the backers of the successful applicants. The department is editing out personal information such as telephone numbers and addresses.
The five were announced yesterday. Here’s what we know so far, listed in order of scoring:
* Natural State Medicinals Corporation. It proposes a facility in Jefferson County. Its leader on incorporation documents is listed as Joseph Courtright. Someone by that name who was the CEO of USA Drugs, a chain sold by the LaFrance family of Arkansas for $550 million. That Joseph Courtright is now involved with a variety of business enterprises that include LaFrance family members with the same address in Little Rock.
* Bold Team LLC. It will have a facility in Coton Plant, a tiny community in ‘Woodruff County. Danny W. Brown of North Little Rock is listed as the incorporator. We’ve been unable to reach anyone. But is he the same Danny Brown who is an accountant, former boss of a cotton oil mill in Pine Bluff and owner of Willy D’s nightclub? We hope to find out.
* Natural State Wellness. It must choose whether it will proceed with highly scored applications in either Jackson or Jefferson County. Groups are limited to one cultivation and one dispensary permit. The 32 dispensary permits are to be evaluated over the next few months. Former Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has confirmed his participation in this group, which also includes Henry Wilkins V of the politically powerful Wilkins family in Jefferson County,
Fox 16 anchor Donna Terrell and a ownership by a Tulsa corporation, the Ross Group.
* Osage Creek Cultivation. It proposes a facility in Carroll County. It’s headed by Jay Trulove,
* Delta Medical Cannabis. It will build a facility on 10 acres it has an option to purchase from John Conner of Newport near ASU-Newport according to lead organizer Don Parker, a Jonesboro lawyer. He’s said all the members of his group are Arkansans, mostly from the Northeast part of the state, and 51 percent of the owners are women.
Parker has said he anticipates a six-month process to get a facility built for the indoor cultivation that is standard for these operations. Then another couple of months to produce marijuana for harvest. Businesses that already have existing structures, if any, might be able to move faster.
Some 4,500 people have already signed up as certified to buy medical marijuana for the conditions specified in legislation. They may purchase up to 2.5 ounces every two weeks, or about four pounds a year. Estimates of the cost of the product vary widely, though some have predicted about $200 an ounce at retail, or $3,200 a pound.
Some communities, Cotton Plant particularly, which doesn’t even have a Dollar General store, are excited about a new business. It remains to be seen how many people will be employed by the cultivation operations and what capital costs will be required.
A brave new world.
CORRECTION: Fox 16 anchor Donna Terrell, who announced Tuesday night she was a participant in a successful application, is not a part of the Natural State Wellness group. She did not identify the group she worked with. She is believed to be with the Natural State Medicinals application.