LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – More than two years after Arkansas voters passed medical marijuana, the state’s growers released their timelines for when the product could become available to patients.
The Medical Marijuana Commission heard from the five cultivation facilities for the first time at its meeting Wednesday.
Bold Team, LLC in Woodruff County and Natural State Medicinals in Jefferson County reported they could have their product available by April. Osage Creek Cultivation, LLC in Carroll County and Natural State Wellness Enterprises in Jefferson County hope to be ready by summer.
The fifth cultivator, Delta Medical Cannabis Company Inc. in Jackson County, said it could also have product by July or August, but the company is currently in limbo.
Delta Medical is applying to transfer its Newport location to a mile and a half down the road across from the Arkansas Department of Correction’s Grimes Unit. President Don Parker told the commission the move would cost his company an additional $130,700.
“We are willing to pay this additional sum and close immediately in order to avoid possible further delays and get our business up and running in order to supply medical marijuana to Arkansans who need it and are qualified,” Parker said.
This comes after an unsuccessful cultivation applicant filed a protest letter against Delta Medical’s current location near Arkansas State University-Newport. The main question at hand is if ASU-Newport is considered a school.
“Is it fair for us to say, ‘Ok, you can move,’ and then we have numbers six through whatever…,” said Commissioner James Miller.
“I see your point…,” responded the commissioner next to Miller, Dr. Carlos Roman.
“It’s not fair!,” interrupted a crowd member.
Fair or not to the unsuccessful applicants, the commission’s rules say colleges and universities are not considered schools. However, a lawmaker requested an attorney general opinion. The commission voted 4-1 to get that before deciding whether Delta Medical can move.
Commissioners asked Parker why his company would need to move if the attorney general’s opinion defines ASU-Newport as not a school.
“An opinion from the attorney general is just that: an opinion,” Parker said. “What we’re concerned with is that it won’t necessarily prevent future litigation. If there’s future litigation like we saw after the licenses were issued, there may well be a judge that would file an injunction and either stop us in the middle of construction or shut us down, pending a resolution of the lawsuit. We want to take as much risk off the table as we can and prevent any interruption in supplies.”
The attorney general opinion could come down as early as next week.
The commission’s next meeting is Dec. 19, when it is expected to announce the state’s 32 dispensary licensees.
The health department reported Wednesday more than 6,400 Arkansans have been approved for their patient cards to buy medical marijuana. Most are for intractable pain, severe arthritis and PTSD.