LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – How many plants will marijuana producers in Arkansas be allowed to grow at a time?
It’s a question regulators in Arkansas are facing… and its one that’s caused big controversies in other states where medical marijuana is legal.
In Arkansas, there will be five marijuana cultivators supplying the drug to dispensaries across the state. But how much they will be allowed to grow at any given time remains a question.
“You don’t know exactly what the demand in the state of Arkansas is going to be,” Marijuana amendment sponsor David Couch said.
Just this week, the new Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission made getting into the pot growing business a pricy endeavor.
It’ll cost you $15,000 to apply for a license and another $100,000 per year to operate.
Presumably, marijuana growers will be looking to turn a hefty profit but that could be limited by how many plants they can grow.
“A lot of the oils, the bath salts, the lotions and stuff they use, it takes a lot more product to process it down to get what you need,” Couch said.
The marijuana amendment passed by voters instructs the commission to work with the Health Department to set plant limits.
“I think what’s important is for them to be mindful of the demand and the patients that are in need of this type of treatment,” Matt Karnes, founder of marijuana consulting firm Green Wave Advisors, said.
We reached out to Karnes over Facetime. He points to states like New Mexico, where a 450 plant limit has led to lawsuits and a battle in state government.
“If you make it to restrictive, you may defeat the purpose of what the legislation is intended for, and that’s to provide an alternative method to people who suffer from these various qualifying conditions,” Karnes said.
Numbers compiled by Greenwave show patients in Arkansas with conditions qualifying them for medical marijuana number more than 240,000. But it’s not clear how many of them will sign up for the program.
“I see the ability of the medical marijuana commission to set a limit as a safeguard to prevent an abundance of medical marijuana, not as a way to limit the amount of medical marijuana that’s available to patients right now,” Couch said.
The State Health Department says it will do its own estimate of the number of qualifying patients in the state and to give to the commission.
The commission will then figure out how many plants to allow based on the 2.5 ounces of marijuana patients will be allow to buy every two weeks.