After deciding last month that it will issue the remaining two dispensary licenses allowed under the state constitution, the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission this week will look at how those license recipients could be selected.
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 and court challenges.
The amendment allows the commission to issue up to 40 dispensary licenses. The commission initially issued 32 dispensary licenses spread evenly across eight geographic zones in January 2019 and has granted six more since then.
The commission in December voted unanimously to issue the 38th license, then in February declined to issue the remaining two on the basis that the applications had expired before the meeting.
Since then, three commissioners have been replaced by two new members and one reappointment, chairman James Miller.
At their meeting July 21, commissioners noted that there were fewer dispensaries in the southwestern portion of the state relative to the number of patients in the region.
After their discussion, the commissioners voted to issue the two remaining licenses, which will go to businesses in Zone 6 and Zone 8. Zone 6 covers Scott, Polk, Montgomery, Garland, Perry, Saline, Hot Spring and Grant counties; Zone 8 covers Howard, Sevier, Little River, Hempstead, Miller, Nevada, Lafayette, Columbia, Union, Ouachita, Calhoun, Clark and Dallas counties.
Miller, who lives in Bryant, said he would be in favor of issuing the remaining licenses because there are fewer dispensaries in that area than in other parts of the state.
As of July 18, there were 36 operational dispensaries in Arkansas, according to an industry update provided by state Department of Finance and Administration spokesman Scott Hardin. All the dispensary licenses have been awarded based