State medical marijuana regulators approved rule changes on Thursday that set the state on a path to issue the final two dispensary licenses by January.  

The rule changes, which need further approval from state officials, would allow the state to recognize expired applications that were submitted in 2017. The new rules would allow the Medical Marijuana Commission to issue the state’s two remaining licenses to the two dispensaries that are next in line to receive them based on previous scoring. 

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The rule changes must be approved by the governor’s office and the state legislature and a public comment period must be held. 

The commission hopes to have the process completed by the end of the year with “licenses out the door” in early January, commission spokesman Scott Hardin said. 

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Green Remedies Group in Garland County is next in line to receive a dispensary license in Zone 6. 

T&C Management in Texarkana is next in line to receive a dispensary license in Zone 8. 

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Dragan Vicentic, owner of Green Springs Medical dispensary in Hot Springs, spoke against the rule changes, saying that there is not a need for an additional dispensary in the area. There are currently two dispensaries in Hot Springs in addition to dispensaries in Alexander, Hensley and Arkadelphia, he said. 

The commission has issued 38 of the maximum 40 dispensary licenses allowed by the state constitution. All but one of the licensed dispensaries is in operation. 

In other business, the commission approved the request of 3J Investments, the state’s only licensed but unopened dispensary, to move from Lamar in Johnson County to Van Buren in Crawford County. The commission previously denied 3J Investments’ request to move from Lamar to Russellville. 

“What’s wrong with Lamar?” asked Commissioner Kevin Case, who was the only commissioner to vote against the move. 

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The commission also approved a change of ownership for Natural Root Wellness of Fayetteville. The dispensary, which will be called Osage Creek Dispensary, will be owned by Jay Truelove, a minority owner of Osage Creek Cultivation. 

The commission additionally approved a change of ownership for CROP dispensary of Jonesboro. 

The commission voted to table a request for an ownership change by Natural State Medicinals until legal disputes among the owners have been sorted out by the courts. Dr. Scott Schlesinger and Dr. Kelli Schlesinger filed a lawsuit last month alleging that they were removed from the ownership of the cultivation business in retaliation “for calling the defendants on their many bad acts,” according to court records. The Schlesingers claim they have been damaged in excess of $60 million by the defendants and have filed a Demand for Arbitration with the American Arbitration Association, according to court documents.