Grassroots OpCo
, which received the second highest dispensary score in Central Arkansas’s Zone 5, is renovating the former Joubert’s Tavern facility at 7303 Kanis Road in Little Rock. Matt Darin, founder and COO of Grassroots, said it hopes to open for business in the next several months.

Grassroots Cannabis is a Chicago-based medical cannabis company with a combined 62 dispensary, cultivation and extraction licenses in 11 states, according to Darin. He said the company is also in the process of opening a “pipeline” of approximately 25 new dispensaries in several different states, including Arkansas, Oklahoma, Connecticut and Nevada. Grassroots was founded in 2016, and Darin said its dispensaries are “health and wellness” minded.

“[We educate] our patients on utilizing cannabis for medicinal purposes and [offer] things like support groups and informational sessions and other wellness activities like that to ultimately improve the quality of people’s lives,” he said.

Darin and Mitchell Kahn, who is also a Grassroots Cannabis founder, together own PCCW Investment LLC, which owns a 4.075 percent stake in the Little Rock Grassroots dispensary. Other owners include Lindsey Lovett Estes, 70.2 percent; Lesley Claire Darnal, 20.1 percent; Dr. Horace Greer, 0.05 percent; Grassroots Cannabis Chief Strategy Officer Steven Weisman, 4.075 percent; and GB Portfolio Investments LLC, owned by Marc Gordon and David Brown, 1.5 percent.

The dispensary also received top scores in Northeast Arkansas’s Zone 3 and Southwest Arkansas’s Zone 8, but it chose to locate in Central Arkansas’s Zone 5 because it will be able to serve the “largest universe of patients” in a highly populated area of the state.

Grassroots’s dispensary application originally listed 705 E. 2nd St. in Ward as its proposed location. According to Darin, the company did not own this facility, and after it was unable to purchase the property, it decided on the Kanis Road location in Little Rock instead. In Wednesday’s Medical Marijuana Commission meeting, the Commission approved Grassroots’s request for the change in location.

Darin said the dispensary is “proceeding forward immediately” with construction plans to renovate the facility. He could not provide an estimated timeline on an opening date and said it would take several months, but it’s working as quickly as possible to get open.

When Grassroots does open, Darin said it will probably open between 10 and 11 a.m. and close between 6 and 8 p.m. Grassroots Cannabis’ other dispensaries have generally been open Mon.-Sat., but Darin said the Little Rock location may be open on Sundays, depending on patient demand.

According to Darin, the dispensary will offer a “large cross-section” of different strain varieties.

“Everybody talks about sativa, indica [and] hybrids, that’s kind of a basic classification to talk through what the different strain characteristics are,” Darin said. “But also, terpenes are becoming a really big thing in the industry. People are getting much more knowledgeable about the effect of different terpenes — citrus ones, pine ones and others — and how that actually makes big difference for patients.”

Terpenes are the oils that give each different strain of cannabis its own unique taste and smell, and each terpene can produce different effects, such as stress relief or mood elevation.

In addition to flower offerings, Darin said Grassroots intends to offer the full line of products available under the state’s program, including “everything from oils that can be consumed through vaping or topicals and tinctures and things like that, to edibles, to medical products, things like patches and lotions and creams and balms.”

Grassroots is also licensed as a “grow” dispensary, and Darin said the dispensary may sell its in-house product to other dispensaries to the extent that it’s able.

Darin said Grassroots Cannabis’s other dispensaries typically employ between 10-30 people, referred to as “herbologists,” and the staff of the Little Rock location will “definitely be staffed principally from people that are based in the area.”

“A lot of what we do is … go recruit and hire local residents for this brand new industry,” he said. “This is an industry that has not previously existed, so it’s definitely a very attractive and exciting place for people to be coming into. [There are] certainly a lot of patients that are knowledgeable and have been following the medical cannabis program. We get a lot of inquiries and interest from those folks who want to work in the industry and are passionate about it, that are already educated on it.”

According to Darin, Grassroots dispensary will provide a “warm, welcoming and comfortable environment” for patients, an environment intentionally different than a sterile medical facility.

“Different dispensaries have different approaches,” he said. “Many of them, it feels a bit more like a doctor’s office or a medical clinic, or a super modern retail store. … At the end of the day, a lot of our patients are already spending a lot of time in doctor’s offices and hospitals, so we’re not trying to recreate that experience.”

In addition to the facility itself, Darin said the dispensary’s knowledgable staff — who are all required to go through the company’s training program — help set the business apart from its competitors.

“Especially in a newer market where you have a lot of patients who are new to cannabis or it’s been a long time since they’ve ingested cannabis, there’s a steep learning curve,” he said. “There’s a lot of information out there, there’s certainly a lot of information online, but ultimately, people rely on us to be the ones to educate them.”