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The state medical marijuana commission briefly considered an argument Tuesday that the two remaining dispensary applications might still be acceptible until Feb. 13, depending on the interpretation of a rule, but voted unanimously to declare the applications expired earlier this month. 

Christoph Keller, representing Green Remedies of Hot Springs, argued at the commission’s online meeting that it should receive a license in Zone 6, which encompasses eight counties between Central Arkansas and the Oklahoma border. Keller said the four existing dispensaries are insufficient to supply the patients’ demands. 

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The discussion among commissioners quickly turned to whether applications by Green Remedies, or any other applicant, could be considered. When the commission initially awarded licenses Jan. 9, 2019, it determined that remaining applications would be held in reserve for two years. 

The commissioners had operated with the understanding that this meant the applications would expire on Jan. 9, 2021, rendering all applications expired by Tuesday’s meeting. 

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Keller argued in a letter to the commission that the deadline should be interpreted as meaning that the applications expire two years after the winning applicants submitted their performance bonds, paid their licensing fees and received their actual licenses, which occurred Feb. 13, 2019. Under Keller’s reasoning, the applications would not expire until Feb. 13, 2021. 

Sara Farris of the Attorney General’s Office advised the commission that either interpretation of the deadline was reasonable. 

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Commissioner Travis Story told the commission it needed to settle the confusion over the application deadline. “As part of this discussion, I think we ought to make that decision and we ought to make that decision today,” Story said. 

The commission voted unanimously to determine that the applications expired Jan. 9. 

The commission has issued 38 of the maximum allowable 40 dispensary licenses. Since all applications have expired, the commission cannot award more licenses unless it carries out a new application process. 

The state has 32 operating dispensaries with six working toward opening. The commission could have issued a maximum of five dispensaries in each of eight zones, but only issued four in Zones 6 and 8. A motion to consider issuing an additional license in Zone 8 failed at Tuesday’s meeting before the commission determined all applications to be expired.

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