As of Nov. 18, Arkansas’s 10 medical marijuana dispensaries have sold over 2,900 pounds of product, totaling over $20 million in sales. So far, dispensary workers say, their best sellers are potent indica strains: bud that’s high in THC, the psychoactive chemical in cannabis, with sleepy, relaxing effects that help with pain relief. Gummy edibles have also been flying off the shelves.
Of the eight dispensaries that spoke with the Arkansas Times, five said customers prefer OG Kush, an indica-dominant hybrid strain. Kattie Hansen, CEO of Native Green Wellness Center in Hensley, said the strain ranges from 19 to 24 percent THC and sells for $15 a gram. (Most dispensaries’ menus list OG Kush for $15 a gram.) As an indica strain, the effects of OG Kush’s potent THC content tend to manifest in the body. The heavy limbs and eyelids experienced by an OG Kush smoker are a testament to the popular mnemonic device used to remember the difference between the effects of an indica strain and a sativa strain: “indica” strains will render you “in-da-couch,” while sativa strains bring a user “sativ-up” for more of a productive high. Hybrid strains do a little bit of both.
OG Kush is also a big seller at Natural Products dispensary in Clinton. Matthew Wilburs, a shift leader there, said OG Kush is the dispensary’s “most popular strain across the board,” in part because “it’s just kind of a staple of the cannabis community.”
“It’s such a common name that’s often associated with cannabis,” Wilburs said. “It generally sells out within 48-72 hours.”
After OG Kush, three dispensaries said the uplifting, buzzy sativa strain Sour Tangie has been popular among customers. It also boasts about 17 percent THC and costs $15 a gram at most dispensaries. Commerce City Kush, a knockout indica strain, also $15 a gram, is a best seller at two dispensaries; Lisa Murphy, CEO of Fiddler’s Green in Mountain View, describes it as “a sleeper.”
Matt Shansky, COO at The Releaf Center in Bentonville, said the strains that have been most popular among his patients all have “high appeal for medicinal properties,” and that they’re “more ‘mainstream’ or recognizable strains.”
“I’d imagine that may be partly why they’ve been best sellers,” Shansky said. “I’d say symptom-wise, pain, insomnia [and] anxiety have been the majority of what patients are seeking relief from.”
For patients who prefer a more tech-savvy inhalation method to joints, cartridges containing cannabis extract can be purchased and used in a vape pen or e-cigarette. Because they’re made from marijuana extract, cartridges can have considerably higher THC content than cannabis flower, which also makes cartridges an appealing product for patients who want more potency with less frequent use.
Dragan Vicentic, CEO of Green Springs Medical in Hot Springs, said the Sour Sooie cartridge has been popular with patients. The “super concentrated” sativa extract has a hefty 86 percent THC, which Vicentic said means “one inhale is all it takes to medicate.”
“If you consider the price of vape oil pens, [cartridges are] the cheapest way of medicating,” Vicentic added. Cartridges at Green Springs Medical range from $14.99-$69.99, and very cheap to very expensive vape pens can be purchased from a variety of retailers, both in dispensaries and online.
Native Green CEO Hansen said the most popular cartridge at her dispensary has been Blue Dream, a sativa-dominant hybrid that’s about 70 percent THC and costs $130.
Another popular method for ingesting cannabis is by eating it. Though the selection offered by the state’s cultivators is still slim, dispensaries say marijuana edibles are popular, especially among older patients who may be fearful about smoking or vaping their cannabis. These are not the chaotically dosed weed brownies users may have enjoyed in college, but gummies with doses measured in milligrams. Fruit-flavored gummies range from around $25-$45 per package of 10. Because each gummy has a known amount of THC, patients can better control what they’re ingesting and avoid getting too high. The effect of marijuana edibles also lasts longer than the high achieved through smoking or vaping; because they’re ingested, edibles take a bit longer to activate, but the resulting effects can last for several hours. Vicentic said gummy flavors include blueberry, black cherry, green apple, caramel apple, watermelon and peach.
Fiddler’s Green’s Murphy said the dispensary “sells the heck out of gummies.” Natural Product’s Wilburs said a “very large part” of Arkansas Natural Product’s patient base is “elderly individuals” careful about their THC intake, and gummies make that possible.
Robbin Rahman, owner of Harvest Cannabis in Conway, said the two most significant factors in his patients’ purchases are the price point and THC level of a cannabis product. Erik Danielson, owner of The Source in Bentonville, said that was true at his business, as well: “What really drives sales is very simple: price and THC content.” Danielson said that of their recent sales, cannabis flower accounts for 75 percent of purchases, vape cartridges for 10 percent, edibles for 10 percent and other products, including tinctures, for 5 percent.
Danielson added he hopes the growth of the industry in Arkansas will encourage patients over time to try products based not on potency or price, but rather on the effects of specific cannabinoids: receptors in the body and brain that interact with the cannabis drug.
“We are constantly trying to tell people that potency is not everything, telling them to trust their nose,” Danielson said. “Your nose is directly wired to your brain. If it’s pleasing to your nose, that may be an indicator that it could be good for you.”