Medical Cannabis Company Hopes to Grow in Jefferson County

REDFIELD, Ark. - A small city in Jefferson County could soon hit a growth spurt if a company with Natural State roots gets the medical cannabis license it applied for. 

Natural State Agronomics hopes to turn a former medical research building in Redfield into a cannabis research and processing facility, which would manufacture hundreds of varieties of edible products along with infusion devices for consumption.

But that's just the beginning.

A private road on the 70-acre site would connect the processing facility with a new cultivation facility. 

"The largest complex of its kind in the southern United States," said Phillip Stroud, the industry consultant for Natural State Agronomics. "We have probably several patentable items that we've discovered through our research that will make this unlike any other cultivation facility known on the planet." 

Stroud said those items include innovations in lighting, air conditioning and humidifying. 

The compound would grow more than 350 new jobs, producing about 1,100 pounds of cannabis every two weeks. 

"The city of Redfield will benefit tremendously," Stroud said.  

The man behind it all is Jefferson County native, Ken Shollmier, who has given a lot to the Natural State but isn't one for the spotlight. 

"People in the state of Arkansas don't even know this facility is here," Shollmier said during an exclusive tour of the facility. "My competition doesn't even know it's here, which I don't really care. This is a dream for me."

Shollmier has built businesses from scratch, made major donations to the University of Arkansas and serves on the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. 

"He comes into this business with more business experience than anybody in the industry," said Bob Gee, Shollmier's spokesperson and longtime coworker and friend. "Both he and Linda Sue [his wife] do have a big heart. They are willing to reach out and look for ways to help other people. I think this is one of those ways." 

Shollmier hopes his final contribution will breathe new life into a city, county and state he loves.

"We need good jobs," Gee said. "In addition to that, the tax revenue that will come from that can go to education and many other important ways of helping the state grow." 

"He's a businessman extraordinaire," Stroud said. "For the 50 percent of people who voted against the amendment, I say to you we're going to make you as proud as the people who are waiting for the medicine itself."

While the company still has to win a cultivation facility license to move forward, Redfield Mayor Harmon Carter said he and most of his citizens are excited about the job opportunities and the role they could play in improving patients' lives. 

The deadline to submit applications for medical cannabis facilities is Sept. 18.

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission will award 32 dispensary and five cultivation licenses.

According to the Department of Finance and Administration, the state has received 46 total applications so far, 34 for dispensaries and 12 for cultivation facilities.

The commission will score the applications and award them based on merit some time in November. 

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