Cannabis licensing methods settled on – Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission decided Thursday to use a reserve list to award two remaining unassigned dispensary licenses and then use a lottery system to make these decisions in the future.

The commission was presented with three options for issuing the remaining two dispensary licenses while also needing to consider a way to issue licenses in the future if one is taken away or revoked for any reason. The goal was to not be in the same position again, should a license need to be issued to another company, of using a process in which the commission (or its designee) sorts through applicants and chooses a winner.

The three options were to either use the existing system; use the reserve list in Zone 6 and Zone 8 to fill the two remaining slots and use the lottery system for future decisions; or use the lottery system to choose who gets the last two licenses and again in the future.

The commission quickly agreed that using the existing system was the worst of the options.

[RELATED: See complete Democrat-Gazette coverage of medical marijuana in Arkansas at]

“I don’t like that one at all,” commissioner Kevin Russell said with a laugh.

The board members decided after some discussion that the second option was the best way to move forward.

“I am not a fan of chance,” chairman James Miller said at the meeting. “With option three, we lose the ability to have any input in the decision. There was a reason why we chose the merit system.”

More finalized details about the selected option will be available at the next meeting.

In 2016, Arkansas voters approved Amendment 98, the constitutional change legalizing cannabis for medical use. The state’s first dispensaries opened in May 2019, after delays resulting from regulatory snags

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