Medical Marijuana Commission Finalizes Application Forms for Dispensaries and Cultivation Facilities

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Arkansans can soon start applying to grow, sell and buy medical marijuana.

The Medical Marijuana Commission approved a final version of the application forms for the state's 32 dispensaries and five cultivation facilities Tuesday. 

The five commissioners decided to limit the narrative summary of the application to 25 pages, which they will read. Applicants can also attach unlimited addendums as long as they are clearly cited. The commissioners have the option of referring to those during the review process.

All five commissioners will score the applications based on merit, adopting scoring breakdowns for two of the sections. 

The commission will start accepting applications for dispensaries and cultivation facilities July 1 and review them 90 days later. 

Arkansans hoping to buy the drug can start submitting applications online on the health department's website at the end of June. A three-person staff, the director of the program, a nurse and an administrator, will man the system. 

Qualifying patients with a written certification from a doctor can apply but won't receive their registration cards until 30 days before marijuana goes up for sale, which should happen in early 2018. 

"We don't want people to waste six months of their registration time, pay the fee and there not be any marijuana for sale," said Robert Brech, the health department's chief general counsel. "We want to make sure the process is as seamless as possible for the public."

Brech expects the department to register about 30,000 Arkansans for medical marijuana registration cards, which will cost about $50 each.

Alcoholic Beverage Control Division enforcement officers are preparing to add the five cultivation facilities and 32 dispensaries to their long list of stops. 

"We don't have a huge number of ABC enforcement agents," said Jake Bleed, the communications director for the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration. "They're all over the state so I wouldn't be surprised if they have to wear a couple different hats."

According to the medical marijuana rules, officers will inspect the licensed facilities before they open and at least once every six months after to ensure they comply from seed to sale.

"If we have a dispensary or cultivation facility that's not in compliance, we have to be able to bring them up before the board and make sure they get back into compliance," Bleed said. 

The ABC is also responsible for manning the facilities' inventory tracking systems with the health department.

"We're continually looking to make sure our rules don't conflict with theirs," Brech said.

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