Who Grows, Distributes Medical Marijuana?

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Medical marijuana is now legal in Arkansas, and the rush is on to figure out who will grow and distribute it across the state.

State agencies are working to set rules and business are eyeing what could be windfall profits.

At the Department of Finance and Administration, phones are ringing off the hook with people wanting to get in on the medical marijuana business.

The constitutional amendment -- passed by voters on Tuesday -- tasks DF&A with overseeing growing and distribution of the product.

"I can tell you we're getting a lot of calls and a lot of people with questions," said DF&A communications director Jake Bleed.  

The amendment mandates at least 20 but no more than 40 medical marijuana dispensaries with no less than four but up to eight cultivation facilities.

"These are clearly going to be larger, commercial, multimillion dollar facilities," said Jay Czarkowski, a founding partner at Canna Advisors.  

He works with companies getting into the marijuana business and says the competition here will be fierce.

"There will be folks in Arkansas that do really well and there will probably be folks that get licenses that don't do well," he said.

The amendment allows the state to charge an application fee of up to $15,000 to start a grow operation and up to $7,500 for a dispensary.

"The amendment was just adopted the other day," Bleed said.

DF&A says it's working to set rules on how licenses will be issued for a business that's bringing new meaning to the idea of making green.

"There's certainly a lot of interest out there that we want to be responsive to," Bleed said.

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission, which will be appointed by the governor and state lawmakers, will oversee DF&A rule making.
    
The governor's office said Thursday there is no time frame for making appointments. But according to the amendment, the commission has until June 1, 2017 to begin accepting applications for licenses to operate dispensaries and grow operations.
 


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