Carpenter Medical Group will have seven more months to complete its medical marijuana cultivation facility after state regulators granted an extension to the Southeast Arkansas cultivator who didn’t make its deadline to get up and running.

The state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, which regulates the state’s medical marijuana program, unanimously granted the seven-month extension after the cultivator failed to meet the state’s one-year deadline to become operational and the cultivator’s 60-day extension had expired. Since July 2020, licensees have had one year from issuance of their license to become operational and can request one 60-day extension from ABC.

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Licensees that do not meet the deadline and have exhausted their one extension are considered to have abandoned their license. Abandonment orders for Carpenter Medical Group were issued last Tuesday, ABC spokesman Scott Hardin said. Licensees must go before the ABC to request their license back as well as an extension to continue the work.

Owner Abraham Carpenter Jr. and Chuck Harper of HARCO Constructors argued before the ABC Board Wednesday that the coronavirus pandemic has impacted the timeline for receiving building materials such as steel. Harper said HARCO has built other cultivation facilities in the state and that it takes 18 months to two years to build the facilities. (Newly licensed cultivation facilities and dispensaries were not subject to the one-year rule until July 2020).

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“You can’t do it,” Harper said of building a cultivation facility in 12 months.

Cultivation facilities have very high utility needs, he said. Carpenter Farms’ 62,000-square-foot facility has 1,000 tons of air conditioning and 8,000 amps of power with “huge electrical systems,” he said. Entergy will design its electrical distribution to the facility once the mechanical systems are in place and it knows the electrical needs of the building.

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“It’s a complex building,” Harper said.

Carpenter and lawyer Vic Harper of Star City displayed pictures showing a frame of a metal building erected on the property to show the building’s progress.

The state Medical Marijuana Commission awarded a cultivation license to Carpenter Medical Group in June 2020 and issued the license in July 2020. Carpenter Medical Group was not ready to operate at the year mark, though, and was granted the 60-day extension on June 23 of this year. In August, Carpenter Medical Group requested a second 60-day extension, but ABC staff does not have authority to grant such a request.

The ABC also issued abandonment orders for CROP Dispensary of Jonesboro last Tuesday, Hardin said. The dispensary’s one-year timetable had expired and the dispensary did not request a 60-day extension. Since the time of abandonment, the dispensary notified ABC that it was ready for its final inspection. The dispensary passed the inspection and cleared the facility for operation. The commission voted unanimously to return the license to CROP.

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CROP will be the state’s 37th operating dispensary. The only dispensary that is licensed but not open is 3J Investments of Lamar, which will appear before the Medical Marijuana Commission Thursday to request a move to Van Buren.