One cultivation site prepares to become Arkansas’ first legally grown cannabis crop, which is expected to hit dispensary shelves sometime in May.
Arkansas voted to legalize medical cannabis in 2016, and patients have been waiting patiently through multiple delays, all while neighboring Oklahoma sped through the process last year. Medical cannabis in Arkansas is expected to be available in mid-May, but cannabis businesses are currently at different levels of preparedness for it.
Three out of five approved cultivators are operational, but only one dispensary is close to operational. Doctors Orders RX in Hot Springs is the only one that has been inspected by the state, even though 32 dispensaries have permits and will eventually open. “Dispensaries across the state are in varying stages of development,” said Scott Hardin, a spokesman for Alcoholic Beverage Control, to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. “There are a few that will be ready for final inspection over the next month to two months, while others are working to break ground . . . Enforcement agents are prepared to inspect each facility and remain available to each dispensary to answer any questions throughout the process.”
“The scenario we anticipate is by the end of May likely having three to five dispensaries operational with that number continuing to grow as we enter June, July and August,” Hardin said.
Dragan Vicentic, CEO of Green Springs Medical in Hot Springs, said he receives 25 calls a day from expectant patients wanting to know when they will open. Over 10,000 patients are registered for the program. However, it is estimated if each of those patients buy the max amount of 2.5 ounces allowed, the current supply will be gone in two weeks. “My biggest concern is that there’s going to be shortages right off the bat,” said David Couch, the attorney who wrote the medical cannabis amendment approved in 2016. “They’re going to run out of product and people are going to be disappointed and back to zero again.”