ANOTHER DISPENSARY FOR SOUTHEAST ARKANSAS: Medical Marijuana commissioners voted to issue a fifth dispensary license in Zone 7.

In a meeting Wednesday afternoon, the state Medical Marijuana Commission voted to issue a fifth dispensary license to Southeast Arkansas’s Zone 7, in which only one of the zone’s four licensed dispensaries has opened for business. Justin Smith, a nurse at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, moved to issue the additional license, and the five-member commission approved the motion unanimously. 

Dr. Ronda Henry-Tillman, who chairs the commission, said she agreed with Smith’s motion.

These are areas that aren’t being served, and we need to move forward,” Tillman said. “Other people have licenses and are waiting.” 

This is the first time the commission has voted to issue an additional dispensary license since the initial 32 dispensary licenses were issued in February 2019. The fifth dispensary license in Zone 7 will go to the next highest scoring applicant from the zone, permitting that applicant has not withdrawn their application, according to Alcoholic Beverage Control Director Doralee Chandler.

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Earlier in the meeting, Smith also moved to have an additional dispensary license issued in Northeast Arkansas’s Zone 3, in which only one of the four licensed dispensaries is operating. None of the three licensed dispensaries in West Memphis, which falls within Zone 3, have opened. Tillman seconded the motion, but commissioners JP Mobley, Travis Story and Kevin Russell voted against it, so the motion failed. Chandler said a second dispensary in Zone 3 has indicated it will be open in early February.

Chandler provided commissioners with a spreadsheet of dispensary updates. To read that in full, click here.

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The commission also reviewed ABC’s drafts of applications for medical marijuana processors, transporters and dispensary license renewals. Chandler said ABC added “language” to the dispensary license renewal application that will require current license holders to indicate whether or not they’ve opened for business; if they’re not operating yet, they’ll be required to provide a detailed timeline for when they plan to open, as well as a “narrative” about their inability to do so within the time period stated on their initial dispensary application. Currently licensed dispensaries will also be required to indicate on their renewal application whether they intend to cultivate their own small crop of medical marijuana — dispensaries are allowed to grow up to 50 mature plants — and if so, provide a timeline for when they’ll begin cultivating. 

Chandler said ABC is currently in the “promulgation process” of creating rules for dispensaries that have yet to open for business. Those rules are still being finalized, but Chandler said ABC plans to give unopened dispensaries one year to open, starting from the date a dispensary’s license is renewed, before ABC’s rules allow the organization to revoke a dispensary’s permit.

The commission also approved a minor change in ownership request for Natural State Medical Group in Alexander. Tommy Ives, who owns a 21 percent stake in the dispensary, will sell 5 percent of his stake to Donna Mooney, who currently owns a 5 percent stake of the business, bringing her ownership stake up to 10 percent.