Arkansas to award 32 medical marijuana dispensary licenses

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The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission will issue 32 licenses for medical cannabis dispensaries once the application process begins.

The commission on Tuesday also set dispensary license application fees at $7,500, Little Rock television station KATV reported. Applicants who are unsuccessful will have half of their fee refunded to them.

Hoping to achieve geographic diversity and to ensure dispensaries won’t be too far from patients, commissioners ruled that each of the state’s four congressional districts would get eight dispensaries, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

The commission initially considered a maximum of 28 licenses, according to KATV, but apparently hoped to send a message to prospective entrepreneurs by increasing the number to 32.

“Opening it up for more people in the beginning will let people know that there’s an opportunity for them to be part of this business,” commission chairman Dr. Ronda Henry-Tillman said, according to the Democrat-Gazette.

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment passed by voters in November also allows dispensaries to have up to 50 mature marijuana plants on premise at any given time.

Dispensaries that choose not to grow cannabis will pay a first-year license fee of $2,500, while annual renewals will cost $10,000. Dispensaries that cultivate marijuana will pay an initial license fee of $25,000 with annual renewal fees of $32,500, according to KATV.

The MMJ law mandates that state officials have regulations in place by March 9. The Arkansas House Rules Committee is considering a bill that would lengthen the March 9 deadline by 60 days, KATV reported, but it’s unclear how much support it has, especially since regulators could have rules in place on time.

The commissioners also recently decided to award five cultivation licenses and set fees and some rules for growers.